Sailing officials have questioned the government for stopping their elite training during the coronavirus pandemic, saying it is jeopardising their hopes of qualifying for the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics. While most of Hong Kong’s elite training continues at the Sports Institute in Fo Tan, sailors have been marooned with their training centre in Sai Kung closed for a second time last month when the government tightened measures after a resurgence of Covid-19. The centre was also closed earlier in the year when the outbreak first hit Hong Kong. “We do not train at the Sports Institute for obvious reasons as there are no sailing facilities there,” said Sailing Federation president Tong Yui-shing. “But unfortunately our Little Palm Beach centre has also been closed for more than a month due to the return of the pandemic in July, the same fate for all other sailing facilities in Hong Kong. “Last week when the government reopened some of the sports facilities, we were not on the list. We have no idea why as most of our events involve one or two crew members only and have little chance of infection compared to other sports. We are talking about elite training and not recreational activities which may involve a large number of people. “As Olympic qualification looms, which will play a key role in our future elite development, we must resume training as soon as possible,” Tong said. The sport, like other tier A programmes at the Fo Tan elite academy, must qualify for the Olympic Games as one of the prerequisites to continue to receive abundant support, financially and technically. After missing an Asian Games medal in Indonesia two years ago, they face the axe if they fail to meet the Tokyo Olympics qualification. Sailing boss hopes to coax Appel back to save Sports Institute status “We have a good chance of making the qualification in the men’s 49er as our last hope,” said Tong. “Our main rivals, such as Oman, India and Thailand, are working hard already and if the current situation continues of no training, we will gradually lag far behind them and have no chance at all.” The Hong Kong men’s 49er team of Akira Sakai and Russell Aylsworth, both scholarship athletes at the Sports Institute, came third in last year’s Asian Championships. The pair face stiff competition for the remaining Asian area Olympic place from a number of countries, which also includes China, Singapore and South Korea. Most of the competitors have already qualified through the world championships over the past two years and the remaining regional spot for Asia is to be decided, with the qualification scheduled to take place by late 2020 or early 2021. Hong Kong Race Week regatta postponed because of virus The Sports Institute is now trying to bring the sailing athletes to the Fo Tan centre, which is currently operating as a closed camp, and then provide the athletes with designated transport to Little Palm Beach, while fulfilling quarantine measures. The same process also applies to windsurfers, who have been stopped from training at their centre in Stanley. All these athletes are now going through a 14-day isolation period before being admitted to the Sports Institute. Windsurfing has already qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Games through Hayley Chan Hei-man and Michael Cheng Chun-leung at the 2019 world championships. The Institute also provides designated transport so their track cyclists can train at the Tseung Kwan O velodrome.