Build more neighbourhood venues and scrap Games bid

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 December, 2010, 12:00am

I am opposed to Hong Kong bidding to host the 2023 Asian Games, even after the government agreed to reduce costs.

The Games will still prove expensive and there is always the chance of overruning the budget.

The reasons given for the bid, to raise Hong Kong's profile and develop a strong sporting culture in the community, is weak.

Hong Kong does not need to host a two-week-long sports event in 2023 in order to raise its profile in this part of the world. It is already the top financial centre in Asia.

The way to develop a strong sporting culture in the community is not to develop a centralised stadium complex at Kai Tak that will cater to a few elite athletes.

It will be costly to build and to maintain and will not be used that often.

Look at the Hong Kong Stadium at So Kon Po, it holds a few sporting events annually, but most of the time it is empty. Why spend HK$30 billion or more to build another and even bigger stadium at the Kai Tak site? The right way to develop a strong sporting culture in the community is to cancel this stadium complex.

Use the money saved to build more indoor game halls throughout the SAR's 18 districts. Build more small neighbourhood soccer pitches, and basketball and tennis courts.

Also, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department should hire more coaches to expand its very popular community recreation and sports programmes. This would enable more people, from the young to the elderly, to benefit from coaching in table tennis, badminton, tennis, tai chi and other sports. A lot of jobs will be created and the facilities will be heavily used every day.

The stadium site at Kai Tak can be sold to build more apartments.

I hope lawmakers will for once unite in denying funding for the Games bid.

Alan Lo, North Point