Games opponents stabbed us in the back, says Tsang
Peter So, Chan Kin-wa and Gary Cheung
Officials had been stabbed in the back in the government's bid for the Asian Games, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen told lawmakers yesterday.
'During the process of lobbying, others let us slide down and stabbed [us] with many holes in the back,' he said.
Facing certain defeat in a crucial vote today, Tsang appeared before the Legislative Council yesterday to make a final push for the 2023 Asian Games bid. Only 14 lawmakers have openly promised their support.
Tsang said the government would lobby until the end, saying that to host the Games would bring long-term benefits to the city.
He said the government would continue to develop sports facilities even if the HK$6 billion funding was voted down by Legco's Finance Committee today. '[But] if we win the bid to host the Games, we'll have a clear timetable [for building sports facilities],' he said.
The government has pledged HK$2.25 billion to improve the existing 41 sports venues, a document from the administration to Legco shows.
Last night a government official said Tsang was referring to criticism the government faced during its campaign for the bid. The official also noted that Legco passed a motion last January urging the government to consider bidding for the 2019 Asian Games.
Pang Chung, honorary secretary of the Hong Kong Olympic Committee, warned yesterday that sport in Hong Kong would enter a 12-year-long 'Dark Ages' if Legco voted against the bid. 'The athletes all have high hopes of competing in front of their families, friends and colleagues on home soil at the 2023 Asian Games,' Pang said. 'But if the councillors say no, their hopes will simply be dashed.
'Hosting a major games will benefit not only the athletes but it is also a great experience for many people in the sports community - the sports administrators, venue management personnel, and even the sports media covering such a big event.
'More importantly, it will provide the sports community a target to work for and boost the sporting culture which has been lacking for many years in Hong Kong. The councillors should consider these long-term factors which will have great impact on the development of sports here.'
Meanwhile, a Home Affairs Bureau spokesman said it did not selectively disclose a government-commissioned poll result that surveyed public opinion on the Games bid in an attempt to mislead the public.
Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan said earlier the government did not disclose the full results of the poll to a Legco panel last month.