Time to kiss goodbye to ‘kiss cam’ after reporter’s on-air ordeal at Hong Kong Sevens

Some South Stand antics are to be expected but you have to draw the line at a female reporter being kissed by two male spectators without consent

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 April, 2018, 2:23pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 April, 2018, 2:23pm

Everyone knows – or is warned – what to expect when entering the notorious South Stand at the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens. Go in with a film crew and you have a target on your back in flashing lights.

High up in the stands, I was pelted with handfuls of salt by a couple of blokes in “Salt Bae” costumes and heckled while trying to record interviews. Plastic pint cups full of a yellow liquid, which I can only hope was beer, were also aimed my way, leading me to seek refuge lower down the stand, hopefully out of sight, so I could finish doing my job.

Civilised behaviour descends into debauchery as alcohol takes hold. You grin and bare it and just accept this kind of abuse – but you have to draw the line at a female television news reporter being kissed by two male spectators without consent during a live telecast.

Diamond Kwok, a reporter for i-Cable News, was visibly uncomfortable and raised both arms to separate herself from the men.

Hong Kong’s Equal Opportunities Commission has said the duo’s behaviour may have constituted sexual harassment.

Kwok did not file a complaint with the event organiser, while an i-Cable spokesman said she had told the company’s human resources department she would not pursue the matter.

“I feel it was unacceptable, but I also don’t feel there is much I can do,” Kwok told news website HK01 this week, adding that she did not think she had been sexually harassed.

The executive director of i-Cable, Ronald Chiu Ying-chun, also didn’t help matters by appearing to make light of the situation.

“Everyone understands the environment at the time, in the South Stand it’s basically a carnival, so even if it happened, everyone should just laugh about it,” he said.

It is conceivable these guys wouldn’t have done what they did if it wasn’t on live television, which begs the question – has the popularisation of “kiss cam” at sporting events, especially in the United States, encouraged this kind of behaviour?

An unwanted kiss, be it on the cheeks or the lips, could at least constitute indecent assault if not sexual harassment.

The Hong Kong Sevens has been using kiss cam for years, a few times every day during breaks in play to keep the crowd entertained.

Two people sitting in the stands are selected by a cameraman and beamed onto the giant screens around the stadium, encouraged to kiss by everyone watching.

It’s mostly seen as wholesome fun – most people play along and either have a quick peck or a full-on snog.

It usually gets a lot of laughs, the one or two seconds it takes before the chosen couple realise they are on live television adding to the excitement and hilarity. Will they, or won’t they?

Sometimes, it looks a little less comfortable though – take the little boy shown on Sunday, sandwiched in between his parents, who was effusively smooched on either cheek by them.

He looked embarrassed beyond belief and will probably have been the butt of a few jokes from his mates at school on Monday morning.

Trying to say this is more than just harmless fun could be construed as the “PC brigade gone mad” but the i-Cable reporter’s treatment in the South Stand does make you think.

In the world of #MeToo where society is becoming increasingly aware of the damaging effects of sexual harassment, it might be time to quietly retire things like kiss cam.

Those behind the camera seemingly look to select people in the stands who appear to be in relationships so as not to try to solicit an unwanted kiss.

But there are always instances where two people will suddenly notice they are on screen, turn to look at each other awkwardly as if to signal they are not together, shrug and then lean in for a kiss just to get it over with, bowing to the pressure.

There are plenty of other ways to entertain a crowd, and if it helps stop abuse like that which happened to Kwok, then all the better.