Another blow for HK as sports host

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 September, 2011, 12:00am


The Hong Kong Triathlon Association has had to cancel its showpiece ITU event next month after the Transport Department refused to close a road.

It is the second setback for the association this year after it lost the Disneyland venue used for the previous three years after failing to secure sponsorship to meet the costs of road closures on Lantau Island.

It is also another blow to the city's wider ambitions to stage major sporting events.

The association learned just 10 days ago that the department would not agree to their request to close Bride's Pool Road, Tai Mei Tuk, for the two-day event, giving them just the Sunday morning to host it.

'This is very disappointing as we applied for the road closure way back in April, but we learned just 10 days ago that our request for a road closure on two consecutive days has been turned down,' said Angela Wong of the association.

The popularity of triathlons meant it had to be staged over two days for the past six years, with elite athletes racing on Saturday and age group entrants on Sunday. It regularly attracts international athletes.

'We've looked at all sorts of ways to accommodate both races in just one day, but we just can't accommodate the large number of competitors involved,' Wong said. 'We need two days to effectively stage all of the disciplines that make up the event, and staging a triathlon is much more complicated than organising a run.'

A department spokesman said a two-day road closure would cause disturbance to the residents and create traffic problems.

The age group competition will now go ahead as planned on Sunday and will be known as the Hong Kong Triathlon Championships.

Andrew Wright, who ensured that triathlon would remain as one of the Hong Kong Sports Institute's government-funded focus sports with his seventh place finish in the Asian Games in Guangzhou last year, was upset the Hong Kong ITU Triathlon Asian Cup would not now take place.

'I find this very sad indeed, said Wright. 'Although the event itself will take place as the Hong Kong Championships, it will be the first non-ITU race in Hong Kong for many years. Surely we should be progressing, not going backwards?

In July Fina, swimming's world governing body, decided against giving Hong Kong the 2015 or 2017 world championships. Hong Kong's government had failed to provide a written guarantee that it would underwrite the event.

Last year, saw the cancellation of the Louis Vuitton Trophy Hong Kong Regatta in the city's waters. It was due to have been held in January, but was scuppered when America, New Zealand and other top teams chose to compete in America's Cup-related races.