Gymnastics and tennis, two sports facing the axe from the Sports Institute, will get one more year to prove their status as an elite sport in Hong Kong. At this week’s Elite Sports Committee meeting, the current review cycle was extended for one year because of circumstances brought by Covid-19 and the cancellation of major international events. Under the current rules, gymnastics and tennis are two tier A sports that failed to meet the criteria and must leave the Sha Tin training complex in April. But the ESC decision means they now have until March 2023 – or another four years if they make the benchmark – to retain their elite status. As Covid-19 wreaked havoc on the sports industry, many found it difficult to send athletes to international events, which are used as benchmarks for review by the Sports Institute. Sports Commissioner Yeung Tak-keung remained tight-lipped on the future of the both sports, saying only that the ESC had endorsed their recommendations, which will now be considered by the Sports Commission. “The results will be known by the end of March,” he said in a reply to the Post . The Sports Commission, however, is unlikely to refute the committee’s recommendations and an extension of the review period is now likely to be a formality. Gymnastics and tennis in Hong Kong could still lose elite sports funding The Gymnastics Association remained cautious as they had yet to receive any written document from the authorities. “We had a meeting with Kenneth Fok, the ESC vice-chairman before the ESC meeting to explain the difficulties we face,” senior sports executive Albert Ng said. “We were close to reaching the 10-point score requirement but missing it mainly because we lack junior events for review. As we know most of the junior events have been cancelled under the pandemic and we can do little about it.” Ng said the junior Asian Championships expected to take place in Bangladesh in May have been called off, which shows how difficult it is to find international events to compete in. According to the elite vote support scheme, achievements of both senior and junior athletes at major international competitions will be used as the selection criterion to identify high performance sports to be supported by the Sports Institute for a period of four years. A score of 10 points or above is required to become a tier A programme. For existing sports who want to stay at the programme, they also need to win medals at the Asian Games or World Championships or qualify for the Olympic Games during the review cycle. Gymnastics scored 9.75 points as they lack significant results in junior competitions, while tennis has reached the scoring benchmark but has failed to win medals at the 2018 Asian Games nor any player qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Gymnastics had its vaulter Shek Wai-hung qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games and won a gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games. Tennis Association president Philip Mok said some recommendations had been made by the ESC, but nothing was confirmed. He said it would be unfair to leave the tier A programme next month. “We do not think it will be for the best interest of the sport to be judged by one single criteria and have raised this with the Sports Institute,” Mok said. “For tennis in Asia, we have to compete against former Soviet Union states who are with players in the world’s top 100 and also regional powers such as China, Japan and South Korea. “Our sport has been improving judging by our international results and in fact we also reached the quarter-finals in three different entries at the 2018 Asian Games who were just one match from winning a medal.” Mok said if the review cycle would extend for another year, they will have to focus on the forthcoming Hangzhou Asian Games in September to win a medal. Tennis won its only Asian Games medal 60 years ago when Tsui Yuen-yuen partnered a Sri Lanka player to finish second in women’s doubles at the 1962 Games in Indonesia.