Hong Kong's international dragon boat races appear to have been thrown a lifeline amid fears that the event would sink this year because of a lack of cash. Organisers revealed yesterday that a sponsor had come forward to donate more than $1 million in a bid to keep the event afloat - and later the government announced it would pump in another $400,000. The Hong Kong Dragon Boat Association needs another $1 million but it has signalled its confidence by pencilling in tentative dates for the races. The $1 million donation comes from the Tsim Sha Tsui District Kai Fong Welfare Association, while the $400,000 is from the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. 'There is still a large amount of funding that requires support from passionate community individuals and passionate community organisations,' said Secretary for Home Affairs Patrick Ho Chi-ping. The Hong Kong Tourism Board earlier ruled out stepping in to save the event. The races, usually held in June, have now been scheduled for July 31 and August 1 at Sha Tin's Shing Mun River. The total expenditure for holding the races in the past has been about $4 million. Association chairman Mike Chung Chi-hung said he hoped the cost could be brought down this year. The association came close to cancelling the races last week after it failed to attract sponsors for the annual event. They were cancelled for the first time last year because of the Sars outbreak. The tradition began in 1976. The Dragon Boat Association has organised the event since it took over the races from the Hong Kong Tourism Board in 2000. The races, considered the world's premier dragon boat event, began in 1976. They were cancelled last year for the first time because of the Sars outbreak. The races normally attract 80 local teams and 30 from overseas.