One athlete, one physio: therapist to be sent to Pyeongchang Winter Olympics to look after one athlete after complaints at the last Games

Hong Kong Olympic committee hopes to avoid furore after Barton Lui Pan-to’s criticism following Sochi failure

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 February, 2018, 11:50am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 February, 2018, 11:54am

For the first time in five appearances at the Winter Olympics, Hong Kong will send a medical staff member to the Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, starting this week.

Despite the smallest possible representation of only one athlete, a physiotherapist will accompany skier Arabella Ng.

Ng, 16, will compete in two Alpine events in the women’s slalom and giant slalom.

Four years ago at the Sochi Games in Russia, short-track speed skater Barton Lui Pan-to, who was also the only representative for Hong Kong, complained that the absence of a team doctor left him below his physical peak for the 1,500-metre qualifiers.

Although Hong Kong Olympic Committee officials hit out at Lui for making excuses after he finished fifth of six skaters, his grievances were heard by the public and many people came out in support of the athlete.

“The government was under heavy fire four years ago because they were the ones that provided the major funding to the Games,” said a Hong Kong delegation source.

“They don’t want to see a similar incident happen again or they will become the target again. This is why a physiotherapist is to be sent to the Winter Olympics for the first time to take care of our one athlete.”

Pang Chung, then secretary-general of the Olympic Committee, said they did not send a doctor to the Sochi Games because medical facilities were on hand in the Athletes’ Village.

‘There’s a bit of pressure, I want to do my best for Hong Kong,’ says teenage Winter Olympian Arabella Ng

The source, however, said the medical staff member would not be part of the official delegation, and would only be granted a “day pass” to work with the athlete due to a limit on delegation members.

They will not be able to stay in the Olympic Village but in a nearby hotel. Their expenses will be borne by the Sports Institute and not the government.