While Hong Kong continues to debate the merits - or otherwise - of bidding for the 2023 Asian Games, Taiwan has already moved into top gear, promising free air tickets, board and lodging and even city tours for all officials and athletes if it wins the right to stage the 18th edition of the regional showpiece.
A Taiwanese delegation is in Muscat, Oman, for an Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) meeting, furiously lobbying the 45-member association for the right to host the 2023 Games.
'The Taiwan offer is too good to turn down, even though the bidding process is still at a preliminary stage without detailed information about venues and other facilities,' Hong Kong Olympic Committee honorary secretary-general Pang Chung, who is in Muscat, said yesterday.
'Taiwan has already started promoting its bid, but we are still arguing whether we should go for it or not. It's very disappointing.'
Games organisers normally provide free board and lodging and air tickets to a limited number of athletes and officials from the participating countries, according to Pang, and will charge national Olympic committees who exceed a set quota.
'Even wealthy hosts like Qatar charged participating countries, and for the Guangzhou Games, we had to pay US$50 per day for each athlete and official that exceeded the quota,' Pang said. 'If Taiwan provides ... free board, lodging and air tickets, it will be very tempting to the OCA.'
At a colourful promotional stall in the tropical gardens of the Shangri-La's Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa, Taiwan sports officials were seeking support in their bids for two major OCA events - the 2020 Asian Beach Games and the 2023 Asian Games. Among the many brochures they were handing out was one titled, 'Over the Top - Taipei Non-stop!'
'Taiwan is already a few steps ahead of us,' Pang said.
Meanwhile, the Legislative Council's Panel on Home Affairs will today discuss the alternative option proposed by the 2023 Asian Games Provisional Bid Committee. The new option is a scaled down version of the original plan, reducing the direct cost of staging the Games from HK$14 billion to HK$6 billion.
The HK$8 billion in savings will come from cancelling plans to upgrade three proposed sports centres - in Yuen Long, Tai Po and Sha Tin.
The government also has to secure approval from Legco's Finance Committee before the deadline for submitting an official bid to the OCA on January 31.