Uphill fight looms on Games bid

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 December, 2010, 12:00am

The government is facing an uphill battle to bid for the 2023 Asian Games with lawmakers seeming set to pass a motion demanding that it scrap the plan.

The motion calling for the administration to 'put aside the 2023 Asian Games bid' and use the money for a sports fund, initiated by the Democratic Party, will be discussed at a special meeting of the Legislative Council tomorrow.

'The pan-democratic camp has nine members, out of 21, on the panel,' Democratic Party lawmaker Kam Nai-wai said. 'If the four members of the DAB also say yes, the motion could be passed.'

Eight panel members have already said they will vote against the motion while two, Paul Tse Wai-chun and Lam Tai-fai, remain undecided.

Although the motion is non-binding, its passage would present the government with an even greater hurdle to clear in securing majority support from 58 lawmakers on the Finance Committee next month for funding approval, with public opinion divided. 'If the motion is passed, the government should explain if it will still force its way to the Finance Committee,' Kam said.

He said the motion, including the call for the HK$6 billion funding to be diverted to a sports fund, was along the lines of the stance taken by the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong.

DAB lawmaker Ip Kwok-him said the party would have to study the wording of the motion. 'We will give our vote if the motion details suit our stance,' he said. 'Although we also want a sports fund, it may not be necessary to directly reallocate the money from the original bid budget.'

While the two biggest parties appeared firmly against hosting the Games, opposition from other parties and independent lawmakers was easing. The Liberal Party said its support for the bid hinged on three conditions yet to be fulfilled, including economic benefits from the Games and long-term sports policy.

'We will give our support if the government can answer all our demands,' party chairwoman Miriam Lau Kin-yee said. 'But so far the written reply from the administration is unsatisfactory.'

Pro-government independent Lam Tai-fai said he would monitor the views of the public before making his decision.

Asian Games cycling gold medallist Wong Kam-po hopes lawmakers opposing the bid will change their minds. 'I hope that lawmakers will not stand firm in their opposition due to face and old grudges.'

The head of the bid team, Eddy Chan Yuk-tak, said the HK$6 billion budget set for the Games might swell to HK$8 billion in 2023 with inflation.

Scaled back

The original budget for hosting the Asian Games in 2023 was slashed from an initial estimate of HK$14.5b to: $6b