Typhoon Mangkhut: Kitchee, rowing centres face bill for ‘millions’ with government, insurers unlikely to help Hong Kong sports facilities
Hong Kong Premier League champions Kitchee’s training centre closed until October, while damage to Rowing Association’s centres at Sha Tin and Shek Mun will cost ‘several million dollars’ to fix
Sports facility owners in Hong Kong face having to splash out millions of dollars to repair damage caused by Typoon Mangkhut, amid the prospect of receiving no financial help from their insurance companies or the government.
Ken Ng Kin, president of Kitchee Sports Club, was left devastated after inspecting the Hong Kong Premier League champions’ Shek Mun centre in Sha Tin a day after water from the nearby Shing Mun River flooded the entire facility.
“After an initial inspection, I don’t think the centre can be opened again until the end of October,” Ng said on social media.
“But we will try our best to minimise the required time for repairing [the damage] so that the centre can be back in normal service as soon as possible.”
Ng said he has been contacting the club’s insurance company and independent surveyors to evaluate the potential cost of the damage, and would provide more details when they are available.
He also said he has received donations and messages of support to help clean the centre.
Across the Shing Mun river, the Sha Tin Rowing Centre in Yuen Woo Road and the Jockey Club Shek Mun Rowing Centre were both left in bad condition.
“We need several million dollars to repair the damages,” Annie Lam Fung-ching, executive director of the Rowing Association, said.
“The pontoon of the Sha Tin Centre was severely damaged and the team cannot train now. The centre was built three decades ago by Jockey Club funding and there is no insurance coverage of it. We hope the authorities can offer some help.”
Lam said the Rowing Association’s insurance covers the third party only for events and activities, and not the facility itself.
The government did not specify if they would offer special funding for repairing damaged sports facilities, saying only some are covered by insurance when asked by the South China Morning Post.
Leung Hung-tak, the Cycling Association chairman who is also a licensed insurance broker, said it would be difficult for national sports associations to cover the facilities for damage caused by natural disasters.
“Insurance companies will treat this coverage case by case and even if they can offer coverage, the charges would not be low,” he said.
“Our BMX centre in Drinkers’ Bay also suffered damages caused by Mangkhut and we have to cover the cost on our own.”
Lam said the two rowing centres will remained temporarily closed, while all rowing courses and activities have been postponed.
That could spell disaster for Hong Kong’s rowing team, whose members rely on the Sha Tin centre for access to the river because the Sports Institute does not yet have its own pontoon.
“We have an athlete preparing for the coming Youth Olympic Games and other crews preparing for the Hong Kong Championships and Asian Coastal Championships which are very close,” head rowing coach Chris Perry said.
“We are training on the land at present – using rowing machines, bikes and gym – but we will need to get back on the river as soon as possible.
“The pontoons will need extensive repairs but we will need to work with the Association to find some short-term solutions too.
“We know that all of Hong Kong are suffering from the aftermath of this huge storm, so we are not expecting special treatment, but we hope that some emergency support could be found because of the very short time to prepare for these important major events.”