Majority favours bidding for 2019
Hong Kong's sports community has given a resounding 'Yes' to pursuing a bid to host the 2019 Asian Games, the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee (SFOC) has revealed.
A survey has shown 30 sports are supportive of a bid for the 2019 Asian Games, eight are against, while two abstained. Only 40 national sports associations were approached for their opinions.
'The majority approve a bid for the 2019 Asian Games,' SFOC secretary general Pang Chung said yesterday. 'We only asked 40 associations as these are the sports most likely to be involved if an Asian Games is held in Hong Kong.'
Pang refused to say who voted for or against, saying it was too early to reveal the details as the SFOC was carrying out a second survey to establish each association's requirements in terms of facilities. The deadline for responses was yesterday.
Pang said the SFOC would pass its findings on to the government, which will then have to make a decision on whether to back a bid for the Games.
'We will have to digest the answers to the second questionnaire which is more detailed before we take the next step, which is to give it all to the government,' Pang said. 'The government knows we cannot go it alone. We need their support if we are to make a bid. I believe the government is also carrying out a public survey on whether a 2019 Asian Games bid is feasible.'
Jonathan McKinley, a senior government official responsible for sport, said he was not surprised by the response.
'It is natural for sports people to support hosting the Asian Games, as the benefits of hosting such major international events are clear and quantifiable in terms of improvements to facilities, support for athlete training and ultimately the results achieved by the athletes,' said McKinley, deputy secretary for Home Affairs.
'The East Asian Games was a good example of the benefits that such an event can bring to sport,' he added.
McKinley said the government would need to carefully assess the costs before a final decision was taken.
'We understand that when bidding to host the Asian Games, interested cities must have the support of their respective governments,' McKinley said. 'It is also important to ascertain whether the community as a whole would support a bid, as the hosting of a major games has implications for public finances.'
There have been concerns within the government, as well as some sections of the SFOC, that it would be better to bid for the 2023 Asian Games.
'My personal view is that 2019 might be risky,' Pang said. 'I believe the government is also concerned over the Kai Tak sports hub and whether it will be ready by 2018.'
Fears have also been expressed that Hong Kong might lose out on 2019 if cities like New Delhi or Kuala Lumpur entered the race. The Olympic Council of Asia's deadline for an expression of interest to host either the 2019 or 2023 Games expires at the end of next month.
Hong Kong has already received the blessings from Beijing for a 2019 or 2023 bid. Chinese Olympic Committee vice-president Yu Zaiqing said last month the mainland would back Hong Kong as 'they have the ability to host a great competition'.
Hong Kong hosted the smaller East Asian Games last December when only nine countries and territories participated. The Asian Games, by contrast, is the second-biggest multi-sports event next to the Olympics. The Guangzhou Games - - from November 12-27 - will feature 45 countries and 42 medal sports.