Anger after Hong Kong blocks 'Color Run' charity craze that is sweeping the world

Beijing and Taipei have hosted charity event, but officials here reject event after months of talks

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 November, 2013, 4:29am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 November, 2013, 2:15am

It's the new charity run that's sweeping the world, but the Hong Kong government is not rushing to join in the fun.

Beijing and Taipei hosted their first Color Runs this summer and Guangzhou is preparing for a sold-out race tomorrow.

However, an application to the Hong Kong government to stage a race - in which participants run five kilometres with no winners or prizes while spectators pelt them with coloured cornstarch - was turned down.

Organisers, who have confirmed that the race will also be held in Shenzhen, said the rejection by Hong Kong followed a seven-month application process. Government officials gave no reason for refusing to grant permission.

The news was broken on The Color Run Hong Kong Facebook page, which has racked up more than 10,000 likes.

The race started in Utah in the United States last year and has spread to more than 100 cities. The Color Run is a for-profit event, but a donation is made to charity after every race.

Last month the organisers wrote on Facebook: "We are jumping through all the hoops as required by the many areas of government and are hoping to have the formal approval as soon as it will be granted to us."

In July they wrote that they were "facing massive regulatory issues" and had submitted a "lengthy" application to seven government agencies. They added that the race was set to take place in May next year and that they aimed to raise HK$1 million for charity.

Nearly 200 Hongkongers left comments on Facebook expressing disappointment, but few were surprised by the government's decision.

Jeff Pierce wrote: "Typical HK. Lame government doesn't allow any fun or creative ideas."

Michael Cheung wrote: "On what grounds was it rejected? Did they say anything other than 'due to various factors'?," referring to the explanation the government gave for rejecting HKTV's bid for a free-to-air television licence.

Kelvin Lui wrote: "Beijing has Color Run, Taipei has Color Run, but Hong Kong, Asia's self-styled world city and capital of dynamism and grand events, doesn't have Color Run. The Hong Kong government never gives reasons!"

A few commenters speculated that the race was rejected due to lack of space or environmental and health concerns.

Taiwanese green groups warned the cornstarch could harm the environment and doctors said the powder could cause respiratory tract infections if inhaled. Taipei city government fined the organisers NT$70,000 (HK$18,450) after cleaners swept the powder into a river.

IMG Worldwide, which organises The Color Run in Asia, could not be reached for comment yesterday.