Should Hong Kong host the Asian Games?

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 October, 2010, 12:00am

Charmain Li, 17, Sha Tin College

Experience can be the best teacher for making decisions. The 2009 East Asian Games (EAG) - hosted by Hong Kong - was described as 'a success in promoting the sporting culture in Hong Kong' by Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-sing.

Before the Games opened, there were concerns that they might fail to ignite the interest of the public. However, major competitions sold out, and nearly 40,000 people packed into the Hong Kong Stadium to watch the hosts proudly win their first gold medal in football.

We saw the Hong Kong team achieve unmatched success at the 2009 EAG. Making the most of their home advantage, they won 110 medals - of which 26 were gold - well above the previous record total of 13 EAG medals.

This success shows the benefits of hosting a major international sports event. Not only do such competitions encourage athletes to perform better on 'home turf', they also promote sports and exercise and make the people proud.

Although taxpayers may be shocked by the cost of hosting such a big event, much of that money can fund better sports facilities and training programmes in Hong Kong. Such an investment benefits both elite athletes and the public in the long run.

Hosting just one big event won't transform the local sporting scene - but, with the right support, every step we take towards hosting the Asian Games will enhance the local sports culture.

Perhaps 2019 might be a bit early, but Hong Kong should definitely host the Asian Games in the future.

Melody Cheung, 16, St Paul's Secondary School

The question of whether Hong Kong should host the Asian Games has attracted much controversy. Government officials have been promoting it, emphasising the benefits it would bring to the city. I don't agree with most of them.

First, the government says the Games will stimulate economic growth. Nevertheless, it will cost HK$14.5 billion to host the event. And the government won't give precise details of those costs. So I can't see how local taxpayers can accept this proposal because they don't know how their money will be used.

Second, the government has given various reasons why the Games should be held in Hong Kong. They are worthy targets but they cannot be achieved by simply hosting the showpiece here. It wants to improve the performance of local athletes and 'develop a strong sporting culture in the community'.

Really? Let's look at last year's East Asian Games to see how we fared. Did our footballers improve their skills after the Games? I don't think so. Besides, Hongkongers didn't show much interest in any of the other events.

Promoting physical education at school and encouraging people to exercise and play more sport are more effective ways to develop a lasting sports culture.

Third, the government has ignored the question of infrastructure needed for the Games. This might provide construction jobs, but how do we find the space in our crowded city to build the auditoriums and sports grounds?