Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon could be held February 12, city’s leader voices support
- Race was initially cancelled last week by organisers, who said the government had not given them enough time to plan it
- Chief Executive John Lee says it is ‘in the organisers’ interest and Hong Kong government’s interest and the community’s interest for these things to happen’
After last week announcing the cancellation of the 25th edition of the race – scheduled for November 20 – because officials had not given approval in time, the Hong Kong Association of Athletics Affiliates said on Tuesday they hoped to hold it on February 12.
In a statement, organisers said they had held “constructive discussion with relevant parties” over the past few days about how to ensure the event went ahead.
Lee said his government would be “doing our best” to ensure the event, and others like it, went ahead because of the economic boost it gave the city.
“Our position is very clear,” he said. “We are very supportive, and we want both sides to work towards the goal of making it happen.
“So, we will have to openly and directly talk to each other, so as to try [to find] a good solution for Hong Kong, because it is in the organisers’ interest and Hong Kong government’s interest and the community’s interest for these things to happen.”
While organisers have a date to aim for, the number of runners allowed to take part is still up for discussion.
The HKAAA previously said it wanted 25,000 entrants, although the government is believed to have balked at that figure given the current Covid-19 restrictions in place.
A source close to the organisers said they would monitor the pandemic situation closely before putting forward a new number of entries.
“From the organisers’ point of view, they of course want more people to be able to join the race, especially as the pandemic seems to have eased recently,” the source said.
“But with the new date, everything has to start from the beginning including the number of entries and related anti-epidemic measures. And with five months left for the event, they hope they can work out a solution that can satisfy all parties involved.”
Commissioner of Sports Yeung Tak-keung said the entry quota was likely to remain at 25,000, and defended the time it was taking for the government to grant approval – a delay the organisers had blamed for their original decision to cancel the race entirely.
“Because the number of participants is quite large, it takes time for the relevant government departments to consider the proposal and advise on the necessary precautionary measures,” Yeung said.
If the race goes ahead in February as planned, there could be two marathons in the next year, with the 2023 race still scheduled for October 29.
There were 74,000 spaces for the 2019 marathon, the year before Covid-19 hit the city. The 2020 event was called off two weeks before it was expected to take place on February 9.
Numbers were heavily restricted at last year’s marathon in October, with organisers only given approval for 18,500 runners.
“Public health and safety are always the top priority of the organiser,” the HKAAA said. “The organiser will strictly adhere to and implement all necessary anti-pandemic measures. It will also work closely with the relevant government departments for appropriate preparation work, allowing all runners, staff and the general public to participate in this annual sports event in a healthy and safe manner.
“The organiser would like to thank everyone for their support for the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon, and will announce the full event details shortly.”