Hong Kong Olympic chief Timothy Fok laments lack of consultation over scrapping of ‘home of athletics’
Sports supremo wants to sit down with government officials before any change is made to Wan Chai Sports Ground
Hong Kong’s Olympic committee chief Timothy Fok Tsun-ting laments the lack of consultation with stakeholders by the government over the plan to remove the Wan Chai Sports Ground – the home of athletics in the city.
Fok, the president of the Hong Kong Olympic Committee, would like to sit down with government officials before any change is made to the popular track and field facility.
“We understand the government has to follow certain procedures if they want to implement some initiatives but the interest of the concerned stakeholders should also be well taken care of,” said Fok, who attended a media vote for the annual Sports Stars Awards on Tuesday.
“Hong Kong needs more space for exhibition and convention as an international trade centre and this may affect the future of the Wan Chai venue but a sports facility also plays an important role in a modern city. There is always a need to strike the balance.”
Fok did not directly respond when asked if he felt the government had made a mistake in not consulting the sports community before announcing the controversial plan.
But he believes the Hong Kong Stadium, mainly used for soccer and rugby competitions, including the world-famous Hong Kong Sevens, could be redeveloped as a district sports centre.
“The usage rate of the So Kon Po venue is very low as we don’t have too many soccer matches there,” he said. “Also, schools cannot use it because there is no running track. In the future, we can redevelop the Hong Kong Stadium so that it can be multi-purpose.”
The Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association (HKAAA) will write to the government to express their disappointment over the proposed redevelopment of the Wan Chai Sports Ground, according to senior vice-chairman Simon Yeung Sai-mo, as they wanted to retain the facility for track and field events.
Last week, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying proposed that Wan Chai Sports Ground, given its proximity to the Convention and Exhibition Centre, could be redeveloped in 2019 at the earliest for additional venues.
The government also proposed to redevelop Hong Kong Stadium, removing part of its 40,000 seats to put up a new running track there. The renovation, however, would not take place before the completion of the proposed Sports Park in Kai Tak, scheduled to finish by 2022.
The Wan Chai Sports Ground, built in 1979, is widely regarded to be iconic for Hong Kong track and field as one of only three designated training facilities across the city for the HKAAA’s 90,000 registered members.