Kai Tak Sports Park design must change so Hong Kong can host major athletics events, says chief
Kwan Kee says a lack of warm-up facilities will hamper the city’s ability to host big international meets, but that the government is reconsidering
Athletic officials remain confident of staging major international events at the proposed Kai Tak Sports Park despite a lack of warm-up facilities for track and field events in the HK$32 billion project.
Chairman of the Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association Kwan Kee said the government was prepared to make some concessions after repeated requests.
“The Sports Park has plenty of space and if the government is willing to help, there should not be a big problem in securing sufficient areas for track and field warm-up facilities,” said Kwan.
“We have stated clearly we need such facilities to stage international events and from our impression during negotiations with the government, they are very serious in reconsidering our request.
“It would definitely be a major upset for the athletics community if we cannot stage international track and field competitions in the so-called landmark of Hong Kong sports. There has to be some solution.”
While there will be no running track in the design of the 50,000-seat main stadium – allowing better views for spectators of ball games such as soccer and rugby – the adjacent public sports ground that holds up to 5,000 fans will feature a 400-metre running track for athletics, plans show.
However, the HKAAA will not be able to stage international events there as it needs a secondary ground for athletes to warm up before competition.
The governing body will host the 2019 Asian Youth Athletics Championships at Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground, the only facility in Hong Kong that is built with a training ground as it was constructed for the 2009 East Asian Games when Hong Kong was the host.
The facility has a capacity of 3,000 seats, which would be sufficient for an international junior competition.
But if Hong Kong want to stage a bigger event such as the Asian Championships, the Tseung Kwan O facility, which only has a 200-metre track as a warm-up facility, does not fit the bill.
Kwan also wants to develop indoor athletics with Hong Kong athletes such as Vera Lui Lai-yiu, Cecilia Yeung Man-wai, Chan Ming-tai and Tang Yik-chun performing well in indoor events.
“We have the potential as our athletes have achieved some remarkable results in indoor athletics,” he said.
“Mainland sprinter Su Bingtian claimed a silver medal in the men’s 60 metres at the World Indoor Championships in Birmingham earlier this year, proving Asian athletes can reach the highest level in indoor events.
“But unfortunately we do not have such facilities in Hong Kong and we have proposed to the government to rebuild the Causeway Bay Sports Ground to become a multi-purpose indoor facility. We hope they will consider it seriously.”