Well-run sports facilities for everyone should be priority

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 January, 2011, 12:00am

I welcome the decision by the Legislative Council's Finance Committee to oppose bidding for the 2023 Asian Games ('Game's over for HK$6b funding bid', January 15).

Athletes at the national level would have been happy to compete in front of a home crowd. Hosting the event would also have helped to boost the egos of a few individuals, including some government officials.

But for the overwhelming majority of residents, it would have brought little or no benefit.

Promoting sport is not about sending a few athletes to the podium to collect their medals. It is about allowing residents to improve their health and quality of life.

To encourage participation in sport, the government allowed residents to book and use public sports facilities for free during a period around the 2009 East Asian Games. But there were many no-shows, which I thought were due to the irresponsibility of users. Earlier this month, I found out this might not be the case.

I booked online a table tennis court run by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. Using the mediocre user interface, I put in the wrong date. I phoned the hotline and found I could not cancel my booking online to allow others to use the court. I would have to visit the venue and fill in a form. Even then, I would not get my money back. This inflexible procedure would explain the no-shows and underutilisation at public sports facilities.

This was not an isolated incident. I run at the Sham Shui Po sports ground every week. On the rare occasions when I can get a locker, I have to wait 15 minutes for it. Also, the water fountains there often do not work.

If the government is not managing its existing sports facilities well, imagine what would have happened if its priorities had shifted to organising for the 2023 Asian Games?

The government has limited resources. I want it to give priority to the poor and the working class instead of to the rich and the elite in our society.

Oliver Au, Cheung Sha Wan