Hong Kong sports community hands in petition to lawmakers as funding argument over controversial HK$32b Kai Tak Sports Park reaches crunch time
Supporters of the long-delayed project are hoping it will finally be approved on Friday
Hong Kong’s sports community waged a final battle on Thursday to convince lawmakers to sign off on the HK$31.9 billion Kai Tak Sports Parks project as it entered the crucial stages of debate at the Legislative Council.
As the Finance Committee began debate on the mega-project at the former airport site, a group of athletes and sports officials gathered at the Council Chamber to rally support.
A petition from 73 national sports associations was handed to committee chairman Chan Kin-por urging officials to sign off on the long-delayed project.
“The authorities have been promising the sports park for over 15 years and we don’t want to see it fall through at the last hurdle ,” said Olympic Committee vice-president Pui Kwan-Kay, also vice-chairman of the Football Association, one of the potential hirers of the planned 50,000-seat main stadium.
“We are ‘Asia’s World City’, but we don’t have the sports facilities to live up to that reputation. It’s a shame.”
Badminton player Yoyo Ng Tsz-yau said her sport needed a better venue to attract major events other than the annual Hong Kong Open, which is held at the Coliseum in Hung Hom.
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“The Coliseum is not even up to the required standard for the Hong Kong Open and we can never stage world-level events without the Sports Park,” she said.
The 19-year-old, who won a gold medal in the mixed doubles at the 2014 Youth Olympics, said the completion of the Sports Park could also pave the way for Hong Kong to host the Youth Olympics and provide more opportunities for up-and-coming athletes.
More than 15 pro-establishment LegCo members came out and supported the project, saying they would do their utmost to ensure the funding was approved.
“We know the budget will increase further if we can’t obtain the required financial support within this LegCo year,” said member Ma Fung-kwok who represents the sports sector at LegCo, which will begin their summer recess in July.
The Finance Committee was debating the matter over two meetings on Thursday, each scheduled for two hours; supporters were hoping the funding could be approved on Friday when four two-hour meetings are scheduled, with the support of pro-establishment members.