TV deal boost for organisers of UCI World Track Championships

A local television station agrees to air the city’s first-ever cycling world event for free, making it easier to attract commercial sponsorship to cover costs

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 February, 2017, 7:31pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 February, 2017, 12:29am

Organisers of April’s UCI World Track Championships are upbeat they will secure at least HK$7 million in commercial sponsorship after a local television station agreed to air Hong Kong’s first-ever cycling world event for free.

Chairman of the Hong Kong Cycling Association Leung Hung-tak said they only received the good news on Friday after making repeated requests to the International Cycling Union to allow for free TV coverage.

“We need free television to cover the event as this is a prerequisite made by many of our potential sponsors because they want to promote their products to a bigger audience,” said Leung. “But the UCI wanted the television station to pay a huge broadcasting fee. That’s why we had to write to them [UCI] to express our concern.

“We don’t know how much the TV deal is worth but we’re really happy the problem has been resolved so that we can start approaching all our potential sponsors to secure the required funding to organise the event. We really don’t know what would have happened had the UCI not reach a deal for free television. The worst case scenario would have been no World Championships in Hong Kong.”

Leung said they had budgeted HK$15 million for the April 12-16 event to be held at the Hong Kong velodrome in Tseung Kwan O. They would need to raise half of that sum as the remaining money will come from a dollar-for-dollar matching funds from the government’s Major Sports Event Fund. He said commercial sponsors would have been scared off if there wasn’t free TV coverage of the event.

“Discussions with the potential sponsors have just started or will start soon but now they know there will be offered free television coverage, chances of attracting commercial sponsorship will be much higher,” said Leung.

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A telecommunication giant has touched base with the Cycling Association for a sponsorship deal which also includes the provision of internet services throughout the venue.

Leung also said the Hong Kong team, headed by top rider Sarah Lee Wai-sze, will not be competing in the last two rounds of the track World Cup series in Cali, Colombia and Los Angeles later this month to focus on the home World Championships.

“As hosts, the riders have already qualified for the World Championships without having to take part in the World Cup series and head coach Shen Jinkang wants to save their energy from travelling to the Americas,” said Leung.

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The chief also expressed confidence that Shen will stay on as head coach although Shen has exceeded the retirement age of 60 at the Sports Institute. Shen’s existing two-year contract will expire next month.

“I heard nothing from the Institute that Shen wasn’t going to be our head coach and I would assume he will stay another two years,” said Leung.