Asian Games

Sports events rarely bring host cities' people together

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 14 October, 2012, 2:32am


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Alvin Sallay's article about the positive effect of large-scale, one-off sporting events is plainly wrong ("A powerful glue to bind a nation", October 7), especially when he suggested Hong Kong should again consider bidding to host the Asian Games as a way to bring society together.

Few large-scale, one-off sporting events ever have a lasting effect on the sponsoring country or city. The "feel good" effect is like an unexpected extension of "happy hour" for the revellers at a pub. But ask them a week later about it, and most may not even remember they were there.

The so-called massive boost to Britain because of the London Olympics will fade within months, if not weeks. The magnificent stadium will be cut by about half and turned over to one of the football clubs. All that will be left are the massive bills. Public officials who pushed to host the Games, which went way over budget, would probably not have supported the bid had they known how much they would cost.

Of course, there are people who adamantly support the London 2012 Olympics, but recent events there show none of the "glue" that Mr Sallay predicted from the Games to make Britain a more harmonious society.

Mexico is now better off than when Mexico City hosted the Games in 1968, but it's mainly because of the North American Free Trade Agreement, not the Olympics. It took Montreal decades to pay off its debts from 1976. The 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles is the only one in recent history not to have imposed a huge financial burden on taxpayers, mostly because the city already had few facilities to build and organising committee chief Peter Ueberroth raised substantial sums by selling sponsorships to corporations.

Hong Kong couldn't even host a competent East Asian Games in 2009. The opening and closing ceremonies were embarrassing. The events themselves were poorly organised. Few residents cared to attend, even when tickets were handed out for free. In some of the event finals, all the finalists were assured of medals because there were only three competitors!

The Asian Games are serious business and the second largest sporting event after the Olympics. They would cause massive traffic jams and probably gridlock all over the city. The idea that after the fiasco of national education, a bid for the Asian Games would serve to bring harmony to Hong Kong is baseless. Residents want a competent, fair and understanding government, one that is genuinely concerned about promoting the long-term livelihood of its residents. That is the "glue" that will bring harmony to Hong Kong society.

William Wang, Mid-Levels