Hong Kong golf official Danny Lai has called on the government to employ a category system during Covid-19 lockdowns, similar to that used for the catering industry, so players can continue to train ahead of the Asian Games in September. Lai, chief executive of the Hong Kong Golf Association (HKGA), said his sport was enduring tough times after the government closed all venues on January 7 to combat a fifth wave of Covid-19 infections fuelled by the Omicron variant. “All our training, whether it is on the course, driving range or simulators, has been suspended for more than a month under this round of pandemic restrictions and this is detrimental to our players as they need practice on a daily basis to keep their form and condition,” Lai said. “The pandemic has now lasted for more than two years, which has cost Hong Kong sports dearly but it seems the only thing the government can do for sport is closing all venues whenever there is a new round of infections. Frustrated tennis officials ask ‘what is end-game’ amid latest lockdown “Maybe a blanket closure for all sporting venues is the easier way for the government who does not consider the individual needs and welfare of athletes. “There are differences in each sport, outdoor or indoor, contact or non-contact, individual or team. Why can’t we introduce a category system that allows some safe sports to remain open during the pandemic,” Lai said. He said if the government can allow restaurants to remain open during the pandemic under specific safety requirements, sports should be treated the same. “An outdoor, non-contact, individual sport such as tennis will be quite safe as the two players play in their own court and seldom have any contact during the game. Golf is the same,” he said. “We can also follow safety requirements, such as all players must be vaccinated or they will not be allowed to enter the venue. They must leave the venue when the match is over with no contact made. We can do that. Please don’t just close all the venues whenever the problem arises.” Omicron surge throws football season into doubt as Hong Kong extends lockdown Under the government’s pandemic restrictions, all restaurants, except for so-called Type D ones, are limited to two diners per table. Type D restaurants – where all staff are fully vaccinated and patrons must have received at least one jab – will be capped at four people per table. More than 70 sports come under the governance of the Hong Kong Sports Federation. Lai said if the government finds it too difficult to deal with individual sports, each association can be asked to submit its own safety plans to remain open during the pandemic. “We are happy to do that,” he said. “For golf, we can even limit each flight to two players to comply with the social distancing measures. We need to find ways so that we can continue training for our players especially with the Hangzhou Asian Games just seven months away.” Lai said the HKGA has already suspended one of its major domestic tournaments this year – the Hong Kong Ladies Close Amateur Championship, which is scheduled for next week. The men’s event, set for March, is also doubtful as long as the golf courses remain closed.