Donald Tsang

Hongkongers need more sports facilities

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 October, 2011, 12:00am


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Thanks to improvements in water quality, the first cross-harbour swim in 33 years turned out to be a great success.

If there was any blemish about the swim on Sunday, it was the parochial insistence that only Hong Kong residents could compete. This meant excluding the 1978 winner, Gary Claydon, a doctor from Australia, from taking part. Organisers cited safety reasons and a limited quota on participants. But such great annual sports contests as the Hong Kong Standard Chartered Marathon and Oxfam Trailwalker have been popular international events with major teams from overseas.

Foreign participation helps raise the global profile of Hong Kong. The cross-harbour swim, involving our famed 'fragrant harbour', could enhance our reputation even further. Fortunately, the harbour swim organisers have promised to re-examine the rules, so it sounds like they will open to foreigners next year. Or so we hope.

The marathon, trailwalker and harbour swim have proved phenomenally popular. Hongkongers are not couch potatoes. Given a chance, we want to stay athletic and healthy.

But these events also show our limited sport resources. The marathon has to use the Western Harbour Tunnel and the Tsing Ma, Ting Kau and Cheung Tsing bridges as the main route. The swim uses the harbour.

Hongkongers are demanding better and more sport facilities. And the government needs to listen.

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen devoted just one paragraph to sports development in his last policy address - on the funding of elite athletes. Most of us are not elite sportsmen, but we deserve the chance to play sports all the same.