• Fri
  • Dec 19, 2014
  • Updated: 4:56pm
CommentInsight & Opinion

When it comes to sports, Hong Kong is losing race to Singapore

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 March, 2014, 4:12am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 March, 2014, 5:56pm

Singapore is said to be as much a rival as model to Hong Kong. From business to tourism and education to attracting foreign talent, the two cities are often seen as racing against each other. Adding to the long list of competition is sports development. After years of planning and construction, the S$1.33 billion (HK$8.16 billion) Singapore Sports Hub is due for a soft launch next month. Comprising a 55,000-seater outdoor stadium, a state-of-the-art aquatic centre and an indoor stadium that holds up to 12,000 spectators, the hub is set to be a new landmark for both the local and international sports community.

It is a shame that our proposed HK$40 billion sports complex at the former airport in Kai Tak is still mere ideas on the drawing board. Project planning began as early as 2008, followed by a feasibility study. Sadly, five years have passed and officials are still seeking lawmakers' approval to fund pre-construction work. Under the plan, the future sports complex in Kai Tak will compromise a 50,000-seat stadium with a retractable roof, a 5,000-seat sports ground and an indoor sports centre. Impressive as it sounds, construction will only begin in 2016 and finish in 2019-20. Assuming no further delay, we are still six years behind Singapore. The snail-paced development makes a mockery of our reputation as the capital for swift infrastructure development. Not only has our image suffered, we have also lost out in terms of hosting international sports events as a result.

The city-state is already benefiting from our inefficiency and delay. Singapore's new hub has claimed at least one event from us - the rugby World Club 10s tournament. This came after the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union could not commit to holding the event because of uncertainties over the existing Hong Kong Stadium.

A policy to make Hong Kong a centre for major sports events was formulated as early as 2002. Ironically, it will be nearly two decades before the right facilities are in place. Officials should speed up the project lest more events go elsewhere.


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Singapore's environment is super clean compared to Hong Kong. It makes you just want to get out there and go for a run or do something healthy. The air quality is generally awesome, aside from the seasonal burning of trees in Indonesia). HK is covered with cement that is unforigiving, most of our "parks" are ultra small and our air pollution is horrible. The basic urge in HK is to get the hell back inside, avoid the weird smells and slimey concrete jungle, and turn on the AC and TV.
Clean up the air, plant more trees, get rid of the cement. It's a good start. And it won't cost billions of dollars into funding corrupt sports leagues run by fat men who happen to have a few government connections.
Singapore air is cleaner, but the heat and damp get to me, and I am obliged to hide in air-conditioned places. So no jogging in Singapore for me. In HK, one can still walk eg in the mid-levels, Pokfulm /Peak route, and of course Sai Kung and the islands.
A better use of govt. resources would be to build a Kai Tak park that can be enjoyed by everyone every day for free. A visit to Beijing's bird nest stadium will tell you all you need to know about the financial viability of expensive sports complexes.
You are right in so far as the heat and humidity is concerned, especially for those who hail from temperate countries. You are also right in stating that HK has more country parks. However, Singapore is no slouch when it comes to greening the city. You can in fact explore the central nature reserves, hop over the various islets like Pulau Ubin, as well as the various green connectors across the city the next time you visit. What I think HK can do better is have a better mix of green with concrete instead of isolating them as apart from each other. N of course do something about that air.


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