Organisers forced to cancel Hong Kong Sixes once again
HKCA puts blame firmly on Mega Events Fund for refusing to put up the millions needed to stage the popular event, despite several applications
The fear of "jeopardising the financial health of Hong Kong cricket" has forced organisers of the Hong Kong Sixes to cancel the tournament for the second year running.
Hong Kong Cricket Association chairman Mike Walsh rued the lack of financial support from the government as well as the corporate sector in backing the tournament, which has been graced by legends such as Brian Lara, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Shane Warne.
"This obviously comes as a major blow but we are obliged to face reality that there is not the corporate nor government will to spend the type of money required to stage a major international event of this sort," said Walsh.
Months of chasing a title sponsor after the government's Mega Events Fund (MEF) turned down two applications for funding proved fruitless, forcing the HKCA to throw in the towel rather than take the risk of using its own funds to stage the two-day tournament in November.
The HKCA laid the blame squarely on the Hong Kong Tourism Commission-run MEF, which over the past two years has knocked back at least three separate applications for millions of dollars in funding.
"Without support from the Mega Events Fund, the costs of staging the tournament in 2014 were significantly increased, making securing sufficient corporate sponsorship a challenge," said Walsh.
"After an intensive sponsorship search proved unsuccessful, the HKCA was reluctantly forced to cancel the tournament rather than jeopardise the financial health of Hong Kong cricket.
"We apologise to the many fans and our long-serving corporate backers, for whom this weekend has been a highlight of the local calendar for decades.
"However, the lack of financial support for the event made the executive committee decide it would be better to cancel rather than leave the association open to a potentially significant financial loss," Walsh said.
He said the HKCA was hopeful of reviving the tournament for next year.
"We remain committed to hosting the Hong Kong Sixes as an important platform to raise awareness of the sport and attract new players, particularly from among the local community, which is a key target of the association," he said.
"The HKCA is also mindful of the tournament's traditional role in supporting the development of cricket in China and in providing the China national cricket team a rare opportunity for international competition," Walsh added.
Shelving the city's biggest international cricket event comes at a time when the game is at an all-time high. Hong Kong achieved ODI (one-day international) status in January after coming within a whisker of qualifying for next year's World Cup (50 overs).
The men's team are ranked 15th in ODI and 16th in the Twenty20 format - they are the highest-ranked team sport in Hong Kong. The team also qualified for the latter stages of the ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh in March where they pulled off a historic win over the hosts.
"We are on a high on the international front and this makes it even sadder that we can't go ahead with the Sixes. But we remain confident in the appeal of the Sixes and that this tournament will go ahead in the future," Walsh said.