'Get Kai Tak going or Hong Kong will be history'
Top sports officials again urge the government to speed up action on the stadium or risk losing events as Singapore unveils acts for new venue
Leading Hong Kong sports officials have again urged the government to get cracking on the Kai Tak Sports Complex, fearing the city will be left behind as Singapore on Thursday unveiled the opening acts for its new venue.
The Singapore Sports Hub has a soft launch in April and officially opens in June, while work has yet to start on Hong Kong's complex.
The new Singapore Sports Hub, featuring a 55,000-seater National Stadium as its centrepiece, has claimed one event from Hong Kong - the rugby World Club 10s tournament.
It has lined up major events from women's tennis and Asian soccer to a Lionel Ritchie concert in April and Taylor Swift in June.
"We were asked to host the rugby World Club 10s in June, but we couldn't make a commitment due to the uncertainty over the Hong Kong Stadium pitch," said Trevor Gregory, Hong Kong Rugby Football Union chairman.
"Now that is gone and there is the potential to lose more events. By the time our sports complex is ready in six years it will be difficult to catch up with Singapore."
Hong Kong Football Association chief executive Mark Sutcliffe was also concerned major events would move to Singapore with the Kai Tak complex scheduled to finish in 2020.
"It is worrying that major sports events may gravitate to Singapore. As 'Asia's world city', Hong Kong cannot be complacent because the world is moving on," Sutcliffe said.
"Hong Kong still has plenty to offer, but we need a co-ordinated sports policy and strategy that places priority on investment if we are not to fall behind.
"The opening of the Sports Hub in Singapore will inevitably attract major events and this should be the catalyst for speeding up the delivery of the Kai Tak project. I have worked in Singapore on consultancy projects and was impressed with the sporting culture and the infrastructure.
"This is because the government there has identified sport as a priority in terms of community health and well-being, but also as one of the 'vehicles' to really put Singapore on the world stage as an attractive place to live, work, invest and visit," Sutcliffe added.
The Singapore Rugby Union has confirmed its interest in hosting the 2019 Sevens World Cup and becoming part of the IRB Sevens World Series. The Women's Tennis Association championships will be held at Indoor Stadium in October and Asean Football Championship matches at National Stadium this year.
"They are best dressed now, while we have an old stadium and are still having difficulties with our pitch. The sad thing is that we could sell the stadium twice over for the Hong Kong Sevens and in this sense it is disappointing to hear that Singapore is gathering such momentum," Gregory said.