Kai Tak Sports Park’s opening delayed until 2024 as pandemic hits construction work
- Commissioner of Sports Yeung Tak-keung confirms delays, citing interruptions to shipments of materials
- It could mean continued need for Hong Kong Stadium – but Yeung remains confident new park will be ready for 2025 National Games
The Kai Tak Sports Park will not be ready for its planned opening date after delays in construction work, with the main stadium not set to open until 2024, the Commissioner of Sports has confirmed.
Yeung Tak-keung said on Tuesday that the Covid-19 pandemic had caused major time lags in the supply of construction materials, and that opening the HK$30 billion facility at the former Kai Tak Airport site, scheduled for 2023, would have to be moved back.
“Many of the shipments have been affected by the pandemic, with most of the materials for construction having to be imported,” Yeung said.
“Our latest estimation is that the 5,000-seat public sports ground will open in late 2023, while construction of the main stadium and the indoor sport centre will not be completed until mid and late 2024 respectively.”
With a seating capacity of 50,000, the main stadium boasts a retractable roof and flexible pitch surface that can host a wide range of events in any weather.
The 10,000-seat indoor venue, in which 80 per cent of the seats are retractable or removable, is designed to meet the standard needed to host major international tournaments including those in badminton, basketball, gymnastics, tennis and table tennis.
Despite the delay, Yeung said the park would be ready in time for the 2025 National Games of China, which Hong Kong will co-host with Guangdong and Macau.
“All the construction work will be completed by 2024 and there is still time for preparations and testing of the venue facilities before the National Games that take place in September the following year,” he said.
The secretary general of the Hong Kong Olympic Committee, Ronnie Wong Man-chiu, said that the sports community was disappointed by the delay but not surprised.
“We understand that the pandemic has brought a lot of problems to society and the construction of such large-scale facilities will definitely be affected,” Wong said. “We have seen a lot of construction work on government projects having been delayed even without the pandemic.
“But the Kai Tak Sports Park is a landmark facility which has been the dream of Hong Kong sports over the years. Of course we want to see it completed as soon as possible, but there is little we can do, because of interruptions brought by the pandemic.”
Wong said that until the new park is ready, Hong Kong Stadium in So Kon Po should continue to play a role in staging major events. The government has plans to redevelop the latter, potentially by reducing its 40,000-seat capacity to under 10,000 once the Kai Tak facilities have opened.
“The So Kon Po facility can hold a considerable number of seats, which can satisfy the needs of most sports events in Hong Kong,” he said. “The government should allow it to stay open until the new facilities are ready.”
The Hong Kong Football Association said that it hoped to continue using Hong Kong Stadium until then, and its chairman Pui Kwan-kay urged the government to ensure that would be possible.
“If a well-known football team from Europe want to visit Hong Kong during this period, we still need a big enough venue to entertain them,” he said.
“Although it does not look that likely under the current pandemic situation, with the quarantine requirement for overseas visitors, we still have a possibility to bring in overseas teams next summer, and Hong Kong Stadium would be needed.”