A senior Hong Kong Sports Institute (HKSI) official has warned that proposed changes to the athletic training body's role could be damaging to sports development. Trisha Leahy, head of the HKSI's technical services division, said the institute should be reserved for Hong Kong's top echelon of athletes. She also warned that plans to rent out the HKSI's facilities to generate income could backfire. The institute and the Hong Kong Sports Development Board (SDB) will be restructured after the government's decision to set up a sports commission to oversee sport. Under the proposals, the institute will become an incorporated body with its outdoor facilities being managed by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD). Indoor facilities such as squash courts would remain under HKSI control. The Hong Kong Sports Development Board, meanwhile, would be scrapped to make way for the new sports commission. But Leahy believed the government was making a wrong move by allowing the LCSD to take charge of the institute's facilities. Being managed by the LCSD would mean the facilities would be open for the public's use. But Leahy said the income generated by rent would not cover the loss of corporate sponsorship - something the HKSI would be encouraged to do after incorporation. 'In other countries where sports institutions have secured corporate sponsorships, the deals are done in return for the companies holding exclusive training camps at the institutes,' she said. 'The marketing factor is the uniqueness and the elite nature of the institutes. If the public can also use the institute then the place is no longer special. It would hamper our efforts in securing funding.' Leahy also said the proposals would hamper the development of top athletes. If the proposals are implemented, athletes of the HKSI would have to compete with the public when booking facilities, which she said would be impractical. The athletes often needed 'flexible and immediate access', Leahy said. 'Its also impossible to separate the facilities [purely on an indoor and outdoor basis]. Even indoor sports like badminton or squash would need the outdoor facilities such as the running tracks for cross training.' Those concerns are also shared within some of the individual national sports associations, who appreciate the flexibility the institute offers top athletes. 'If they want to cross train - for example if table tennis want to go and use the athletics track - it's very easy,' said Heather Deayton, executive director of Hong Kong Squash. 'But if they open things up too much it could become a problem.' Equally, the loss of independence could complicate Hong Kong's quest for medals as Deayton believes something as simple as changing a light bulb will become far more difficult under the new arrangement. 'The institute is all internal. They just call their own maintenance if something goes wrong. At the Squash Centre, which is an LCSD venue, we report it to the management. They then have to go through a government channel, which might involve something that has been put out to tender,' she said. 'It's all much more complicated and it can take a lot longer. The government runs differently and that will be a concern at the institute.' Yet those are not the only worries for the individual sports bodies. Hong Kong Table Tennis Association president Tony Yue Kwok-leung echoed the concerns of many in pointing out that the composition of the three committees that will drive the new sports commission - Elite Sports, Community Sports and Major Events - was vital to the new structure's success. 'The problem within the SDB was that the people appointed to the committees were outsiders not familiar with sport and sometimes the whole consultation process would not be gone through properly,' Yue said. 'We can't say it is a better system until we know the make-up of the committees and also how the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee (SFOC) fit in. If the composition is half and half - half SFOC and half government - we can see it might work, but there's a danger of repeating what happened before.' Yue's other main concern is that the decision-making process will become more cumbersome, because in the current structure the SDB is far more in control of its destiny. 'The SDB has good reactions. They can make fast-paced decisions because they are the controlling body and the executive body. In the future the LCSD will be the executive body while the policy setting will be done by the sports commission,' Yue said. 'It may work, or it may hamper the speed of their decisions.'