Minister shrugs off criticism of Games bid

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 September, 2010, 12:00am

Hong Kong's home affairs minister was left unfazed yesterday by strong opposition in some quarters to the idea of Hong Kong making a bid to stage the 2023 Asian Games.

Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-sing said: 'We expect to hear from people opposed to the idea. [They] help us understand what the public thinks and we listen to them seriously,' he said on a Metro Radio programme yesterday.

The idea of bidding to host the Games, held every four years has received support from sports organisations. The idea has been put out for public consultation, with the consultation period ending on November 3.

Opponents speaking to Tsang on Metro Radio criticised the idea of a bid, which the government says will cost Hong Kong a minimum of HK$13.7 billion, with a further HK$30.17 billion needed to build eight new venues, plus an unknown amount to build an athletes' village.

Tsang defended the cost of the bid, saying that the city would be spending large sums of money on new sports facilities anyway.

'It's unfair to say that over HK$40 billion will be wasted [if we host the Games]. We've planned and need to spend HK$30 billion on building the venues anyway... and upgrading existing venues to meet the Asian Games standards is an investment.'

He said Hong Kong, which had staged the 2009 East Asian Games, had spent more than HK$3.5 billion on building or upgrading sports venues in the past five years - an average of HK$700 million a year over the past five years. The government was already planning to spend about HK$10.5 billion on similar works in the coming 13 years - an average annual outlay of only HK$800 million - excluding the nearly HK$20 billion cost of the Kai Tak multi-purpose stadium complex, he said.

Tsang said the government believed it was worth hosting the Games - experience showed the benefits available to past hosts of the Asian Games and Olympic Games - and the mainland would also be backing the city's bid for the Games.