After nearly two years of social unrest and a pandemic, people are yearning for the old normal and for traditional things to look forward to. The Tokyo Olympic Games in July-August fits the bill, even if Covid-19 has already forced a postponement and threatens them again. People can cheer on local representatives and take national pride in the achievements of China’s athletes. The catch is that until now there was to be no live coverage. No television operators would pay the reported US$35 million fee for the rights. Now the Hong Kong government has stepped in and bought the rights to share free of charge among the five local licensed broadcasters, reportedly paying less than the US$15 million and US$16 million TVB and i-Cable paid in 2016 and 2012 respectively. Ironically, given public funding of the rights, public broadcaster RTHK is excluded. Announcing the deal, under which the operators pay only their own production costs, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said RTHK lacked the capacity to cover the Games. The rights will be sub-licensed to Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB), ViuTV and Hong Kong Open TV along with paid channels Hong Kong Cable Television and NowTV. She said the government needed to act given the state of the economy, with advertising revenue having fallen by 20 per cent in the past year. That said, the move is unprecedented. Questions abound. The use of taxpayers’ money in this way to avoid an Olympics blackout may be defensible under current financial and economic difficulties. But it is taxpayers’ money nonetheless. Not all Hongkongers can be expected to watch or take any interest at all in any Olympic competition. And it cannot be argued that this a commercial deal in the normal sense of it. There is a need for more transparency. Clearly there is a lot of detail we still do not know. Hong Kong buys Olympics broadcast rights, will license to five local stations We can only hope that in return for keeping the public – and other potential broadcasters – in the dark the government has been able to strike an uncommonly good deal. The ultimate beneficiaries are the commercial broadcasters, who can now sell advertising around the Olympics coverage without having to share the revenue with the government. They should therefore spare no cost to achieve high-quality productions.