Dance, rugby handed medal status for 2009
Dance sport and rugby sevens have been reinstated as medal sports for the next East Asian Games, making a total of 23 sports when the games are held in Hong Kong in 2009.
'The two sports [dance and rugby] proposed at the meeting that they should be medal sports and not demonstration sports and it was accepted by the games' council after it considered all the related factors,' said Johnny Woo, chief executive of the 2009 East Asian Games yesterday.
'The inclusion of the two sports will not carry an extra burden in terms of organisation because, as far as budget and facilities are concerned they are already included in the games. Only their status has changed.'
With a total of 23 sports, which is six more than the last games in Macau in 2005, the number of gold medals also will also reach a record of 287 as decided by the games' rules and technical committee yesterday.
'It will be a bit hectic because the entire period for the games is nine days only,' Woo said. 'In Macau, they hosted only 233 events, also in nine days.
'Many countries want to increase their medal chances by increasing the number of events and that was accepted by the games' council, so we have to do our best to make it work.
'Hong Kong sports is very proud of its organisational skills and I am confident of putting on the best-ever East Asian Games.'
Taekwondo, for instance, will have 16 events with each one separated by a category of 5kg rather than the usual 10kg. There are also 19 categories in bodybuilding.
As the host, Hong Kong is expected to do well in a number of sports such as windsurfing, cycling, cue sports, squash and wushu, in which SAR athletes have won medals on the international stage before.
However, there will be no chance for track-cycling world champion Wong Kam-po to showcase his skills in front of the home crowd. Wong won a scratch race at the world track championships in Spain two months ago.
'There will be no track cycling because we lack a venue,' Woo said. 'Hong Kong's velodrome will not be completed in time for the games.'
The HK Cycling Association had earlier proposed building a temporary velodrome. But Woo said that, with a budget of HK$10 million for the temporary venue and a new velodrome to be completed in 2012, it would not be the best way to spend public money.
The government has committed HK$100 million to building new facilities and upgrading current ones to meet the requirements of the games.
Meanwhile, Tianjin will host the 2013 East Asian Games after the northern Chinese city defeated the only other bidder - the Mongolian capital Ulan Bator.