Three major hurdles still faced by Hong Kong sports
The latest policy address by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor confirmed her commitment to sports development in the city (“Policy Address gives hope for expanded facilities at the Sports Institute”, October 10). A sum of HK$500 million has been earmarked for hosting major sports events on a matching basis, and the government will continue to support the construction of the HK$32 billion Kai Tak Sports Park. Further, an extra HK$5 billion was allocated to the Elite Athletes Development Fund in this year’s budget, on top of the HK$1 billion pledged by the previous chief executive in January 2017. All this is indeed welcome news for the sports community, but there are still plenty of challenges ahead.
First, funding. Is funding for the three major areas – elite sports, mass sports and mega sports events – identified by the Hong Kong government adequate for each category and who made the decisions in arriving at these ratios?
Second, facilities. The Hong Kong Sports Institute’s commitment to serve 19 focus sports and its ability to offer only a few in-house sports facilities are serious limitations. The Leisure and Cultural Services Department provides sports facilities for the general public but there are never enough to meet demand, especially during peak hours. The opening up of school facilities would cater mainly to the elderly population in the early morning and evening hours for low-risk leisure activities.
Existing major sports/cultural events are coordinated through the LCSD and various National Sports Associations and sports/cultural promoters. Was it wise to adopt the “design-build-operate” approach for the Kai Tak Sports Park and entrust this huge task to the “winning tender” for 25 years?
Third, leadership. For elite sports to be successful, the leadership and political motivation should come from the Hong Kong government, with active participation and commitment from selected and local business enterprises.
For mass sports, the leadership and delivery of the Home Affairs Bureau and LCSD, together with other stakeholders such as schools, NGOs and National Sports Associations, is vital. For major sports events, the commitment, investment and sponsorship of the commercial sector is imperative, with input and participation from competent sports promotion companies and relevant National Sports Associations.
Professor Frank H. Fu, Pok Fu Lam