Hong Kong authorities place veil over Formula E race to keep out prying eyes
Even International Finance Centre will have views blocked during two-day event, but pedestrians will be able to catch glimpse of event through see-through curtains on overhead walkway
Hongkongers have been almost completely shut out of any free public vantage point to watch the city’s first Formula E race, with even windows of the International Finance Centre shopping mall likely to be blocked ahead of the debut on Saturday.
Part of the IFC Mall podium open space is also expected to be closed to the public to deter any free riders.
But those who are still keen on watching electric cars racing along the Central Harbourfront without buying tickets for the premier event can sneak a peek from the Hong Kong Observation Wheel. They will have to shell out HK$100 for a ride, which lasts for only 15 minutes.
An IFC mall spokeswoman said the viewing curbs were requested by police to “prevent overcrowding around railings or windows facing the racing tracks”. Additional manpower would also be deployed during the two-day race, she added.
Barriers and screens have already been put up on Lung Wo Road to prevent free riders.
“It’s understandable that the authorities tend to be more conservative during their first time hosting such a big event, but some security measures have gone too far,” said Chung Pak-kwong, Baptist University’s head of physical education. Blocking views at surrounding commercial buildings was not necessary as it posed little security risk, he added.
— FIA Formula E (@FIAformulaE) October 6, 2016
A cleaner at IFC Mall said the terrace area facing the race track would be closed during the two-day event, a common practice during big public events such as fireworks shows.
But the screens blocking prying eyes are translucent, allowing somewhat filtered views of the race.
British traveller Sandra Roberts found she was able to see through the veils. Wandering along the footbridge to the Central ferry piers, she said she might watch the race with her husband and daughters from there as tickets were too expensive at HK$2,380 for grandstand views.
A staff member at the Apple store at IFC Mall – reportedly the best free vantage point thanks to its giant glass windows – told the Post on Friday night that staff had not received any notice about taking steps to block views.
Hong Kong Automobile Association chief Lawrence Yu Kam-kee said the Formula E race could rack up losses of up to HK$50 million from an investment of HK$250 million.
But the local organiser said it intended to make the race an annual carnival that attracted people from all walks of life and tourists from overseas.