Shot in the arm: Policy Address gives hope for new multimillion-dollar facility at the Sports Institute
Chief Executive Carrie Lam promises Hong Kong athletes will be provided with ‘greater support’ with the look on improving facilities at Sha Tin in future
Hopes of building a new multimillion-dollar facility at the Sports Institute got a shot in the arm in Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s Policy Address on Wednesday.
In Lam’s 322-paragraph report detailing the government’s vision and initiatives, sports development accounted for three paragraphs, led by the success of Hong Kong’s athletes at the 2018 Asian Games.
The Chief Executive also promised her government would continue to support Hong Kong athletes through improved services and facilities, saying: “By providing athletes with greater support in training, sports science, sports medicine etc, and by proactively looking into ways to enhance facilities in the Hong Kong Sports Institute, the government will continue to support the development of elite sports and assist our athletes in scaling new heights in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and in other major international sports competitions in the future.”
The Sports Institute responded by saying the Policy Address had addressed the genuine need of enhancing its facilities to meet the athletes’ requirements.
However, it is believed a new facility at the Sha Tin complex is in the works and now with the support of the Policy Address, the project has become more feasible.
“This is a positive sign given by the government and hopefully we can start the discussion with them and put up a timetable for the construction of the facility,” said an official, who wished to remain anonymous.
“There is a pressing need for more facilities at the Sports Institute as the number of full-time athletes is growing and there is already insufficient accommodation for them.
“The sports science and sports medicine department also lacks space to bring in better equipment to help the athletes, while the fitness training centre is also very congested and this can only be solved by moving these facilities into a bigger area through the construction of a new building.”
The Sports Institute has reserved a plot near its entrance for the new facility and it is estimated to cost HK$1 billion.
“This involves a large sum of money and this cannot be done without the government’s support. The Policy Address came at the right time,” the official said.
The new building could also solve the training needs of gymnastics, one of the few tier A programmes that does not have a training base at the institute.
The sport used to train at the Challenge Gymnasium when it was a resident at the institute since the early 1980s, but the facility was converted into a table tennis training hall after gymnastics was axed from the elite programme in 1999.
Gymnastics regained its elite status in 2011 and following Shek Wai-hung’s back-to-back gold medals in the men’s vault at the 2014 and 2018 Asian Games, the gymnastics association made it clear it wanted to move back to the institute with a permanent training base.
However, it is believed the institute only planned to build a multi-sport training hall with equipment for gymnastics.
“We want a permanent centre for gymnastics and I hope they can reconsider our needs if they are going to build a new facility at the institute,” said association chairman Cheung Siu-yin.