Hong Kong Tennis claims Olympic Committee is 'victimising' teams

Association executive says refusal of Olympic Committee to allow full teams to compete in key events harming bid to return to Sports Institute

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 October, 2013, 10:07pm

Tennis, struggling to regain elite status at the Sports Institute, claim they have been victimised by the Hong Kong Olympic Committee which refused permission to field a full-strength squad at the East Asian Games in Tianjin.

A senior Hong Kong Tennis Association official said the sport continued to be unfairly treated after an application to send four men and four women was knocked back by the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee (SF&OC).

Hong Kong, which is being represented by more than 300 athletes in 23 sports in Tianjin, had only two women and one man in the tennis team, putting the athletes under immense strain to win medals. The women narrowly missed a bronze medal in the team event.

"We continue to be given stepmotherly treatment by Hong Kong officials picking teams for multi-sports games. We want to know why the Hong Kong Olympic Committee couldn't trust our selection and chose to knock back our application to send a full-strength team to the East Asian Games," said Herbert Chow Siu-kung, a member of the HKTA executive council.

In letters sent in March and April to the HKTA, Pang Chung, SF&OC secretary-general, intimated that its selection committee had the final say. But Chow insisted that a bigger squad would have given Hong Kong a better chance for a medal.

"We came close to winning a bronze medal in the women's doubles which would have given us three valuable points towards the scoring system for SI elite team status, but our girls were tired having played singles too, and we didn't have our best combination out there," Chow said.

In July, tennis' application to send a four-strong squad to the University Games in Kazan, Russia, was turned down by the University Sports Federation of Hong Kong. That was also a lost opportunity to win points towards re-entry into the Sports Institute.

At the 2010 Asian Games, tennis faced similar issues.

"Why can't people, in this instance the Hong Kong Olympic Committee, accept the fact that as the national governing body, we should have the best knowledge on team selection," Chow said.

"This has happened too many times in the past and we want to get to the bottom of this."

A source close to the SF&OC said Hong Kong tennis players failed to meet international standards. Tennis did not win any medals at the East Asian Games in Hong Kong four years ago.

The HKTA nominated six men and six women for the games. Two men were approved but one - Brian Yeung - had to pull out after Harvard University refused to release him. All six women were rejected, before Zhang Ling (240) in the WTA Tour rankings) and Venise Chan Wing-hau (340) were approved on appeal. Chan was later replaced by Tiffany Wu after she also had to pull out.

"We should have been able to send four men and four women in the first place so even if someone had pulled out, we would still have been able to field a competitive doubles team," Chow said.

"With only two women, we were unable to rotate the squad for the doubles and by the bronze-medal game our girls were tired.

Hong Kong lost 2-1 to South Korea. Zhang won all her singles matches, but she and Wu - not a doubles specialist - lost the doubles against the Koreans.

Chow added: "We had two other players who were better doubles players, but they were both turned down. A bronze would have given us a massive boost in our bid to win back SI status. Thanks to the SF&OC we lost a golden opportunity."