Saturday, June 26, 2010

Hong Kong intends to bid for 2023 Asian Games

The Hong Kong government announced on Friday that they would support the sports authority in its potential bid for the 2023 Asian Games instead of the 2019 edition which was proposed first.
The Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-sing said the HKSAR (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region) Government had decided to support the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China to submit a “letter of intent” to the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) to bid to host the 2023 Asian Games.
Noting that the OCA is inviting bidding intentions for the Asian Games in 2019 or 2023 until June 30, Tsang said the government’s assessment showed that it would be more advisable to bid for the Games in 2023 than in 2019, which was first proposed during the East Asian Games last year.
“There are clear advantages in hosting the Asian Games in 2023,” he said. “This would give us more time to develop good quality venues that would meet the needs of sports development in Hong Kong and that would also be suitable for hosting Asian Games events.
“The building program for the Asian Games would not overlap with the major infrastructure projects as many of them are expected to be substantially completed before 2023. It would also allow us to showcase a suite of new infrastructure projects to the rest of the world.”
Hong Kong held the 5th East Asian Games in December 2009, which was the first time that an international multi-sport event came to the southern city of China.
Among the 21 venues of the EAG, only two were newly built, the other 19 were refurbished. Considering the budget and the traffic condition, the athletes were arranged in hotels near to the venues according to their sports.
The president of Hong Kong’s Olympic Committee Fok Tsun-ting admitted that the sports venues needed an upgrade, and the construction of an athletes village would be necessary. 8 “Should we decide to bid, the venues to be constructed or improved will be a legacy for our residents, especially for the younger generation,” Fok once told the reporters, pointing out that the dated sports facilities are now incongruous with the city’s fame, compared with the other developed infrastructures.
According to a governmental plan, a new sports complex would be built by 2021 in Kowloon Bay as a part of the rebuilding project of the former Kai Tak Airport which had retired in 1998.
However, the submission of a “letter of intent” does not amount to a formal bid. The OCA has set the end of 2010 for the submission of a formal bid to host the 2019 or 2023 Asian Games.
“Before deciding whether or not the government should support a formal bid, a public consultation exercise will be conducted to gauge the views of the public,” Tsang said, adding that the final decision would be subject to the outcome of the consultation exercise and acceptance of the likely financial implications involved by the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council.
Tsang said the HKSAR government would set up a Provisional Bid Committee with representatives from the sports sector, business and community organisations and relevant government agencies as well as a Bid Team to take forward the detailed planning.
The relevant preparatory work includes a review of the OCA requirements in respect of issues such as venue availability, accommodation for athletes and officials, and a detailed assessment of how Hong Kong can meet these requirements.
Estimates of the likely operational cost of running the Games, the capital costs to be incurred in providing suitable sports facilities and the cost of accommodating delegations in a purpose- built athletes’ village will be prepared.
An assessment of the potential economic costs and benefits of hosting the Asian Games will also be made. The consultation exercise will be launched upon completion of the relevant preparatory work.
“The support of the community is essential if Hong Kong is to formally bid for the right to host the Games by the end of this year,” Tsang stressed.

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