Broadcaster TVB has defended the choice of its iconic but controversial presenter Nat Chan Pak-cheung as the city’s sole torchbearer in the relay for the Rio 2016 Olympics. The TV giant, which secured the exclusive broadcast rights for the Summer Olympics, to be held in Rio de Janeiro in August, announced late last month that the flamboyant 65-year-old presenter would be a torchbearer in the relay at Fortaleza, in the northeastern Brazil. The announcement created no stir and remained just a story in the entertainment sections of various Chinese-language media outlets until Wednesday, when the station broadcast the relay, at which point the audience realised Chan was the only delegate from Hong Kong. It is all about the money for TVB’s star presenter Members of the public questioned why TVB was entitled to choose a torchbearer, and why Chan was picked, given his non-athletic background and previous controversial remarks on public issues. Tsang Sing-ming, the station’s deputy controller of corporate communications, said TVB was invited by the Brazil Olympic Committee to find a runner for the relay because it was the city’s only broadcaster for the Games. “Nat Chan was a veteran programme host, including large-scale sports events like the Olympic Games, so he was suitable to go on behalf of TVB, and Hong Kong as well,” Tsang said, adding that the station had not considered other options. He said he did not know if the committee had invited the Hong Kong government to find other torchbearers from the city. Previous torchbearers from Hong Kong include former Olympic gold medallist Lee Lai-shan, Canto-pop singer-actor Andy Lau Tak-wah, and Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who was a member of the Executive Council at the time – all of whom ran the relay in 2008. Timothy Fok Tsun-ting, president of the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, told the media he would not comment on the station’s commercial decision. The relay was organised by the Brazil Olympic Committee, and his committee had taken no part in it. Ratings gamble ‘just a game’: TVB presenter Nat Chan Pak-cheung After running 400 metres in the relay on Wednesday morning, Chan told the media it was like a “stamp” on his life as a sports journalist to be able to become a torchbearer for the Rio Olympics. “It’s like running around a sports field – a feeling of completion. The Olympic atmosphere was intense, as the spectators were so enthusiastic,” Chan said. It’s like running around a sports field – a feeling of completion. Presenter Nat Chan This was not the presenter’s only brush with controversy in recent years. In 2013, Chan said he would crawl home on his knees if the TVB anniversary gala show that year achieved just a three-point rating, triggering a call on Facebook for viewers to boycott the show. His pledge followed a row sparked by the government’s decision that year to deny Hong Kong Television Network a free-to-air broadcast licence. Labelled a symbol of superficiality by some cultural critics, Chan made no secret of his love of money. In an interview with the Post in 2013, he said: “My aspiration in the early days was simple. I didn’t just want to get rich, I wanted to get very rich.” One of his claims to fame was winning 3T [Triple Trio] bets on horses six times in two months. Chan will be one of the programme hosts for the Games in August.