Asian Games 2018: Watershed event for Hong Kong’s sporting future
Olympic chief Timothy Fok says the performance of team sports in Jakarta and Palembang will lay down a marker for future competitions
The 2018 Asian Games could be a watershed event for Hong Kong athletes as the continent becomes the focus of the sporting world over the next few years.
Timothy Fok Tsun-ting, president of the Hong Kong Sports Federation and Olympic Committee (SF&OC) said the government’s policy to strengthen sport in the city, particularly in team events, provides an added incentive for athletes to aim high and enhance Hong Kong’s reputation in the region.
“This is our biggest delegation to the Asian Games, especially with many team sports. We have a lot of young people getting some good experience in these type of events,” said Fok at Thursday’s flag-raising ceremony for the Hong Kong team at the Athletes Village in Jakarta.
“Everybody is focused on sport now and particularly this part of the world over the next 10 years. And we hope we can have a lot of home support, certainly the spirit is there.
“With teams sports, it’s not very often Hong Kong have a chance to participate in such events. But we are now being encouraged by the government, there will be tremendous pressure on the teams but I feel confident that if we can perform well, it will lay down a marker for Hong Kong for future events.”
Hong Kong are fielding more than 580 athletes in Jakarta and Palembang from August 18 to September 2, including men’s and women’s athletes in eight team sports.
The men’s rugby sevens team are among the favourites to win medals in the team events while Hong Kong are also competing in baseball, basketball, soccer, handball, hockey, volleyball and water polo.
The men’s football team have won two out of two so far in Jakarta.
Tokyo will host the 2020 Olympics while Beijing will stage the 2022 Winter Olympics – the first city to host the summer and winter Games.
Delegation official Ronnie Wong Man-chiu said the performance of Hong Kong’s teams at the Asian Games was crucial to the future of sport in the city.
“The policy address of the Hong Kong government put the emphasis on team sports so that’s why we have all eight teams here, both men and women,” Wong said. “We are putting together a five-year plan for the development of team sports that will be beneficial to our sporting future.
“We don’t know how they will perform here. The Olympic Games in Tokyo means that Japan are building up and they will be very strong. Also China is preparing well.
“There is pressure on our team sports but overall, given the tough competition we face, if we can achieve a similar medal haul to that of four years ago [in Incheon], I will be satisfied.”
Hong Kong won six gold medals at the 2014 Asian Games, along with 12 silver and 24 bronze for a total of 42. It was their highest total although at the 2010 Guangzhou Games they won eight golds out of 40 overall.
Only about 20 athletes attended the flag-raising ceremony because most were at training or had yet to arrive in Indonesia.