Dig into rock caverns to build world class winter sports facilities

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 March, 2014, 4:57am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 March, 2014, 4:57am

I read with interest Bernard Chan's article ("Land shortage in Hong Kong a problem of our own making", March 7) that discussed how some of those marginal sports in Hong Kong such as ice skating don't have the right facilities or support from the government.

I visited Norway a few years ago and went to the Gjøvik Olympic Mountain Hall that houses an underground Olympic-sized ice rink that was constructed for the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics.

It was located within a hill and is one of the largest underground publicly accessible rock caverns in the world.

The facility was very impressive and had been innovatively combined with a swimming pool in order to reuse the excess heat from the ice rink cooling process to heat the pool.

The facility manager told me that the Gjøvik ice rink can also be used for concerts and exhibitions for around 5,000 people.

The mountain hall was even designed to be used as a public shelter in the event of any natural disasters or problems on the surface.

I can imagine that a similar facility could be of use to Hong Kong if a storm were to hit the city like Super Typhoon Haiyan that devastated the Philippines last year.

Surely if there is no room on the ground surface to build marginal sports type facilities, such as ice rinks, then maybe we should think about going underground into rock caverns like Norway did more than 20 years ago.

Indeed, the chief executive has mentioned the potential of using rock caverns.

We could provide multipurpose facilities within our hillsides to cater for those marginal or unusual sports that allow our citizens to try it out, develop and excel.

Hong Kong is full of talented people and perhaps we have the next potential Olympic champion in our midst. However, without the opportunity to try and practise their sport this opportunity will surely be squandered. Well done to Barton Lui Pan-to for trying against the odds and getting to the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Surely we can do better to support and nurture these people by providing world-class facilities in our own hillsides.

Thomas Bush, Tai Kok Tsui