Sporting chance goes begging again
The sports policy for our city should be to facilitate the promotion of sport through providing venues and resources to national associations representing the various disciplines. If the limited number of facilities and relatively low participation rates are any guide, it is an approach that has, at best, a patchy record. The manner in which the Hong Kong Triathlon Association has been forced to cancel its premier annual event indicates it is time for soul-searching.
International athletes regularly participate in the Hong Kong ITU Triathlon Asian Cup, which has become so popular that it has to be held over two days. This year, though, due to the Transport Department declining to close rural roads on consecutive days, the organisers have been forced to curtail the competition. Priority has been given to local age group competitors and the cup has been cancelled, leaving no room for overseas participants. Just 10 days' notice was given, despite an application having been made in April.
It was a second setback for the association's efforts to hold the event, having previously been unable to secure sponsorship to pay for the cost of road closures on Lantau. This follows the failure of Hong Kong in July not to be chosen by Fina, swimming's world governing body, to host the 2015 or 2017 world championships. That time, the government failed to provide a written guarantee that it would underwrite the competition, saying it had not been given enough time to make a decision.
Hong Kong is still in the early stages of creating a sport and fitness-orientated culture, so priority has to be given to building quality facilities. We have a number of top-class athletes and we have to give them every chance to shine locally and internationally, both to improve and inspire. Regular and focused competitions will foster participation and put our city on the sporting map. An opportunity has been missed with triathlon.