Asiad squad is Hong Kong's largest
A record 550 athletes and officials in 34 sports will represent Hong Kong at the Asian Games in Guangzhou in November.
As the official deadline passed yesterday, Hong Kong Sports Federation and Olympic Committee (SF&OC) secretary general Pang Chung said the city would send its largest-ever squad to a multi-sports games with more than 400 athletes expected to carry the Bauhinia flag at the November 12-27 showcase.
'We are sending our largest squad because we want to put on a good show since we are bidding for the 2023 Asian Games,' Pang said yesterday.
'As such, getting results will be very important and we have tried to ensure that every athlete who has been picked has a realistic chance of being competitive.'
At the 2006 Doha Asian Games Hong Kong was represented by a squad of 407 athletes and officials. Hong Kong won a record 29 medals including six gold, 12 silver and 11 bronze medals. The golds came in badminton, bodybuilding, cycling (two), table tennis and windsurfing
A total of 36 sports associations - there will be 42 sports in Guangzhou - had applied in May for a ticket to the Games. But after a stringent screening process - mainly based on performance and results - the SF&OC has given the green light to 34.
Boxing and roller sports are the two sports to miss out, although across the board a number of teams and individual athletes have also been rejected, among them the women's hockey team, triathletes and tennis players.
'Although our deadline is today, a number of sports are still appealing, but I don't expect any major changes and, as of now, I believe our contingent will number around 550, including about 400 athletes,' Pang said.
An official with the Hong Kong Federation of Roller Sports said she had heard nothing after they had appealed the decision.
'We were told we couldn't go because we were not good enough,' the official said. 'This is the first time that roller sports is in the Asian Games and we had hoped we could be part of history.'
Hong Kong Boxing Association sports executive Alex Yeung Ho said: 'We are disappointed we were not approved. We nominated five boxers but the Hong Kong Olympic Committee said our boxers' records were not good.
'We have never taken part in the Asian Games,' Yeung said. 'Our goal now is to take part in as many international events as we can and try to raise our standards.'
Pang said: 'We have approved sports where we think we have a chance of being competitive. These sports are not up to par. We are not sending a tour group on a holiday.'
The 34 sports which will take part are aquatics, athletics, badminton, baseball, basketball, billiards (and snooker), bowling (tenpin), canoe, chess, cricket, cycling, dance sports, dragon boat, equestrian, fencing, football, golf, gymnastics, handball, hockey, judo, karatedo, rowing, rugby, sailing (and windsurfing), shooting, squash, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, triathlon, volleyball (and beach volleyball), weightlifting and wushu.
Apart from boxing and roller sports, the other sports that Hong Kong will not take part in - and had not applied for - are archery, kabbadi, modern pentathlon, sepak takraw and softball.
Pang also revealed Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen will officiate at the flag presentation ceremony for the Asian Games squad on October 8 at Hong Kong Stadium.