Hong Kong lags far behind regional rivals in sports portfolio, but Kai Tak complex should change that, official says
Commissioner for Sports Yeung Tak-keung admits much needs to done for Hong Kong to improve its standing as a sporting destination
A report on sport in Hong Kong paints a bleak picture of the landscape by indicating the city lags far behind some of its regional rivals in attracting high-profile events.
The report, compiled by financial services giant KPMG and Business of Sport Network, showed Hong Kong was ranked way behind Tokyo, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur and most notably Singapore, rivals for the title of “Asia’s world city”, in terms of its event portfolio.
The report awarded Hong Kong high scores in four key areas considered important in attracting elite events – infrastructure, people and services, security and event support. But despite its high scores and apparent attractiveness to major sporting bodies, the city scored a meagre 1.30 out of 20 for its portfolio.
Its closest rival, Kuala Lumpur, scored 2.51, while Tokyo, which will host the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and the Olympic Games in 2020, scored the maximum 20.
Singapore, which regularly hosts a Formula One Grand Prix, a round of the World Rugby Sevens Series and this year hosted the Asia leg of the International Champions Cup football that featured Atletico Madrid, Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain, scored 9.82 out of 20.
In 2015, Singapore controversially usurped Hong Kong to host the Premier League Asia Trophy football tournament, a mainstay on the city’s sporting calendar since 2011, before it returned to Hong Kong last year.
Hong Kong’s commissioner for sports, Yeung Tak-keung, said he believed the eventual opening of the much-anticipated Kai Tak Sports Park in 2022-23 will help the city to attract more elite sport events.
“There are areas where we need to catch up,” Yeung said. “The venue is important and at present, we need a big venue to host big events.
“This is one of the areas where we need big improvement, and we are working on it.”
Hong Kong’s sporting infrastructure is limited to the ageing Hong Kong Stadium at So Kon Po, which has a capacity of 40,000, and the indoor Coliseum, which was completed in 1981 and can hold 12,500 people.
Yeung said part of the ongoing tender process, which is expected to be completed this year, involves contractors presenting a suitable operational plan for the Kai Tak complex.
He said the winning tender would be responsible for attracting new events to the city.
“Tenders need to propose new events and how they are going to run and attract new events to the Sports Park. The winning contractor will need to produce a business plan to attract more events.
“We have not selected a tender, it’s too early. But once we select a tender we can look at their business plan. We still have a few years’ time to prepare for a big event.
“Once Kai Tak Sports Park is complete and open, of course, we should have a long list of events – a full event calendar,” he said.
After an abortive attempt to host the 2006 Asian Games, Yeung admitted it was not beyond the realms of possibility that Hong Kong might again launch a renewed attempt to host a multisport event once Kai Tak is completed.
“With Kai Tak Sports Park we can consider it,” Yeung said. “At the Asian Games there are 40 sports, and for some of the sports, even the Sports Park would not have the facilities. So if we want to host the Asian Games, we need to build more facilities. It’s possible, but there’s no concrete plan yet.
“When I talk to the sports sector people, they are more interested in other games like the Youth Olympics.”
The sports commissioner also revealed that Hong Kong’s performance at the Asian Games in Jakarta fell in line with what was expected of the squad, despite no official medal target being revealed.
“[The performance at the Asian Games] was very good. It wasn’t a surprise, it was within our expectation because over the past 10 years the government has invested a lot of money in sport.
“More or less it was what we expected,” Yeung added. “Maybe we should have had one or two more golds instead of silver.”