Hong Kong bills itself as an international city. But it is often very parochial, sometimes pathetically so. Take the cross-harbour swim, to be resumed next month after a break of 33 years. Gary Claydon, 49, was the champion last time the event was held in 1978. A medical doctor now living in Australia, he applied for the harbour race as soon as he heard about it. Having met all the requirements and duly filled out all the forms, he was told he couldn't take part. Why not? Because he doesn't have a Hong Kong resident ID card. This is a man with deep roots in the city. He spent his early childhood and teen years in Hong Kong. He owns a property in Stanley and visits the city every year. He has swum in open water races in Australia almost every year and is due to compete in the 14.5km Stanley-to-Deep Water Bay race a week before the harbour swim. No one at the Stanley event gave him any hassles, but then, the Stanley people are not from the Hong Kong Amateur Swimming Association. As the cross-harbour swim organiser, the association has become more bureaucratic than the government, which has given its approval for the race after finding water quality has significantly improved. Association officials have apparently said they are worried about safety. Does this mean they are more worried about the safety of foreigners than locals? They are allowing swimmers with Macau ID cards to compete. What, no concerns about their safety? It's hard to imagine that many foreigners are as eager to take part as Claydon, so organisers needn't worry they might open a floodgate. If Claydon is gutsy enough to get back into Victoria Harbour's waters, we shouldn't torpedo his chances.