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Sarah Lee Wai-sze

Big bucks: 2017 cycling world championships ‘would cost $15 million’ to stage in Hong Kong

The association says a much larger budget than January’s World Cup would be required if the city wants to stage the top-class event next year

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 February, 2016, 6:49pm
UPDATED : Friday, 26 February, 2016, 7:47pm

The Hong Kong cycling team left for the world track championships in London on Friday, but the riders, headed by medal hopefuls Sarah Lee Wai-sze, may not need to travel abroad next year if the Cycling Association is successful in bringing the world event to the city in 2017.

The association wants to host next year’s world championships on a budget of

HK$15 million after successfully hosting a leg of the World Cup series in January when the three-day event attracted near-capacity crowds at the Tseung Kwan O venue.

If we go for the world championships, our biggest concern would be our expenditure as it involves a much bigger budget than the World Cup
Leung Hung-tak

Chairman of the Cycling Association, Leung Hung-tak, said they were still in discussion with the International Cycling Union (UCI), the world governing body of the sport, about bringing the prestigious event to Hong Kong but he was positive it could happen.

“We are interested in bringing another world-class event to Hong Kong after staging a successful World Cup leg,” he said. “If we go for the world championships, our biggest concern would be our expenditure as it involves a much bigger budget than the World Cup.”

The January World Cup cost about HK$7 million to stage, but after taking into the account the financial support received from the government’s Major Sports Event Committee and other commercial backing, the association did not have to dig deep into their own pockets. However, with maximum government funding set at HK$6 million, the association would have to raise another HK$9 million if they plan to host the World Championships, a source said.

“They have already contacted the UCI regarding the possibility of staging the 2017 world championships and the major concern is the budget as the association needs to put in a sum close to HK$10 million of their own,” said the source. “The association has therefore asked the UCI to revise the sanctioning fee for staging the world championships, which is close to HK$5 million and also reduce costs in other areas.

“They are waiting for a reply from the UCI and if the world body agrees [to these requests], there is a strong possibility that the world event could come to Hong Kong for the first time.”

Meanwhile, Hong Kong is almost certain to win three Olympic track cycling tickets at the completion of next week’s world championships, the last of 10 qualification rounds for the Rio Games.

Leung Chun-wing and Diao Xiaojuan are both ranked 18th in their respective men’s and women’s omnium rankings prior to the world event, while Sarah Lee’s dominating position in the two sprinting disciplines has almost guaranteed her a place for Rio. Lee is second in both the women’s sprint and keirin qualification.