Asian Games

Government open to making fresh 2023 bid

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 February, 2012, 12:00am

A fresh bid for the 2023 Asian Games would be considered again by the government if the sports community wished to pursue it, a senior official responsible for sports said.

'This is a matter for the SF&OC [Hong Kong Sports Federation and Olympic Committee]. If they were to approach us with a proposal to make a bid, we would consider the pros and cons,' Jonathan McKinley, deputy secretary for Home Affairs (pictured), said yesterday.

The Olympic Council of Asia this month urged Hong Kong to reconsider its decision not to bid for the 2023 Asian Games. The council also hinted a shared bid with Shenzhen and Macau would be entertained.

OCA director-general and technical director Husain Al-Musallam said Hong Kong would 'stand a very good chance' to host the Games and hoped the city would 'reconsider and bid for the Games'.

The OCA had originally intended to pick the host cities for the 2019 and 2023 Asian Games at November's general assembly but now only the 2019 host will be chosen, giving Hong Kong a lot more time to consider a 2023 bid. 'I was under the impression we had missed the deadline for bidding for the 2023 Games. We have heard nothing from the OCA or the SF&OC on this,' McKinley said.

Hong Kong Olympic Committee secretary-general Pang Chung said the committee would consider going back to the government when the 'chaotic' political situation cleared.

'I have already spoken to Tim [Timothy Fok Tsun-ting, president of the Olympic committee] about this. But I don't think it is the right time now to talk about a bid considering the political situation which is in a constant state of flux,' Pang said.

'With the focus on the elections for the chief executive, no one cares about sports right now.

'When the time is right, we won't mind going back to the government.'

Fok, who is also a member of the Legislative Council representing arts, culture and sports, was unavailable for comment yesterday. Last year, Legco voted against a motion for HK$6 billion in funding for a bid to host the 2023 event.

A joint-Pearl River delta bid was also greeted cautiously by Pang. 'It won't be an easy job as you will be dealing with three local governments [Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Macau],' he said. 'This is something which will need the involvement of the central government [in Beijing] and it will only be they who can settle it.'