For 13 years, the Salem Open was one of those major tournaments that put Hong Kong on the international sports calendar. Now that the organisers have decided to move it to Beijing next year, it is not just tennis fans who should be concerned about its departure. A far more serious question is what it portends for the future of sports development in Hong Kong. Will other major events which have brought the world's best athletes here by-pass the SAR as the sponsors cast their eyes further up the mainland? For corporate sponsors keen to promote their names to the billion-plus consumers in the mainland, the temptation to spend their dollars on hosting a star-studded sports event in Beijing or Shanghai is growing by the day. Hong Kong simply cannot be complacent and believe that the tournaments which have been with us are here to stay. In a consultation paper released in May, the government talked of promoting a sporting culture. Among its recommendation was the establishment of a fund to support the hosting of international sports event. The idea was that grants would be allocated to cover the full administrative costs of staging the events, including venue hire and marketing, so that more money from ticket income and sponsorship could go to players as prize money and appearance fees. It is hard to say whether the Salem Open would stay if the fund were already in operation. It may be that the lure of the mainland market is so strong and the potential benefit to sponsors so enormous that no amount of subsidy could change the equation, although it should certainly help. Hong Kong must realise that its 6.8 million souls constitute less than one per cent of China's 1.3 billion population. Joint deals that enable events staged locally to reach the 80 million people in Guangdong and beyond could be one way of maintaining Hong Kong's attraction as a centre for international sports.