‘Brave’ Vera Lui Lai-yiu praised by Hong Kong sports official for telling world about sexual assault
Baptist University’s Professor Chung Pak-kwong says the hurdler’s courage helps to raise awareness of the issue in local sports
A leading sports official has praised hurdler Vera Lui Lai-yiu for her bravery in telling the world that she was a victim of sexual abuse, saying it served as a warning to all in the community.
Professor Chung Pak-kwong, department head of physical education at Baptist University and former chief executive at the Sports Institute in Fo Tan, said Lui showed courage in relating her story, which sent shock waves across Hong Kong sport.
“Her action should be well recognised as it has raised concerns of the community on the issue,” said Chung on Monday at a launch of the university’s educational leaflet on how to “protect young athletes against sexual harassment”.
On her 23-year-old birthday in November last year, Lui posted on Facebook claims that she was sexually assaulted by her coach when she was 13. However, Lui, who won a gold medal for Hong Kong in the women’s 60-metre hurdles at the 2017 Asian Indoor Games in September,has since turned down requests by the media for interviews.
Chung, however, said he did not believe sexual harassment was a serious problem in Hong Kong sports.
“We have quite a good coach education system in place and the conduct of most coaches is trustworthy,” he said.
“Also, Hong Kong is an open society with advanced use of digital equipment. Parents always keep a close eye on their children and a minor issue will be easily spread through social media. It’s indeed quite difficult for coaches to conduct any immoral behaviour during training.”
Gymnast Ng Kiu-chung, a silver medallist in the men’s rings at last year’s Asian Championships, agreed that sexual harassment was not a major issue in Hong Kong sports.
“I haven’t heard anything in gymnastics like what happened in the United States,” said Ng. “But body contact between coaches and athletes is very common in our sport and we do need more education on this subject.”
Professor Chung said they had produced enough copies of the leaflet to send to all education institutions in Hong Kong.
“The leaflet explains the definition of sexual harassment, lists out examples, highlights the need for organisations to establish guidelines, and provides tips for coaches and athletes so that stakeholders and members of the public can better understand the issue,” he said.
Baptist University will also organise a seminar on sexual harassment in sports on Thursday to raise awareness of the issue.