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Kazufumi Ose leads Antoine Guillon during the 2019 TransLantau 100. Hong Kong’s strict policy on quarantining inbound travellers has resulted in the 2022 race being downgraded from Major status. Photo: Sunny Lee

Letters | Hong Kong’s quarantine policies also threaten to derail trail running scene

  • Readers discuss how pandemic restrictions are affecting the organisation of an international race in November and the city’s ongoing crisis of confidence
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Both the Global Financial Leaders Investment Summit and the Hong Kong Sevens are set to take place this November. If both events take place as “normally” as possible, Hong Kong could regain a lot of confidence.
Unfortunately, the government is neglecting the importance of another event that month: the TransLantau trail running race. This year’s TransLantau was supposed to be a UTMB World Series Major race, but this status was revoked because of Hong Kong’s strict quarantine policy for inbound travellers.

As a person who registered to take part in the event, I received more bad news earlier this week. It is likely that only the 50km and 25km events can take place, meaning the 100km and 140km events could become virtual races.

Moreover, event organisers might not be allowed to provide food to competitors during races. This proposed measure is simply ridiculous. Even though the 50km and 25km races are relatively short races, most athletes will need to consume food during the races.

Do the government officials responsible for designing such measures genuinely believe runners eating their own food could significantly reduce the chance of spreading Covid-19? One could even argue that, if food is provided by race organisers, the risk of spreading the virus is even lower because organisers can help enforce social distancing measures when runners consume food at checkpoints.

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In fact, all participants and organisers of the race need to be fully vaccinated, undergo a PCR test less than 48 hours before the race and do an antigen test on the event day. Such measures should greatly reduce the probability of having infected people attending races.

People attending indoor banquets do not need to undergo PCR or antigen tests. Are trial running races that take place outdoors really riskier than indoor banquets?

With inadequate information, I am not in a position to comment on the possible cancellation of the two longer races, but the government should be aware that trail running is an attraction for Hong Kong. Before the pandemic, overseas and mainland runners loved competing here.
The revival of Hong Kong’s trail running scene would also show that the government is serious about developing sport as an industry. This was a policy objective in the last policy address of Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and was recently reaffirmed by Kevin Yeung Yun-hung, the secretary for culture, sports and tourism.

Despite losing its UTMB World Series Major race status, this year’s TransLantau is still supported by UTMB, arguably the most famous ultramarathon group in the world. Forcing the cancellation of the two longer races and implementing meaningless measures will send a negative message to people worldwide who are genuinely concerned about Hong Kong.

Wing Lee, Hung Hom

Hong Kong needs its groove back

I don’t really care if Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu, Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee and others in the new administration wear grass skirts, do the hula and place leis around the necks of incoming visitors to Hong Kong. What doesn’t seem to be sinking in is that arriving at the airport remains a scary welcome to Hong Kong.

No visitor wishes to be “greeted” by teams of people in masks and overalls overseeing a city infected by rampant fear. Like in the film How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Hong Kong desperately needs a shot of confidence, plus massive doses of inspiration, motivation and some good, positive vibes.

Hans Ebert, Wan Chai