Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Asian Games a win-win benefit

 Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs Raymond Young Win-win benefit: Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs Raymond Young says a Hong Kong bid to host the 2023 Asian Games will not hinder Government spending on social issues.

A Hong Kong bid to host the 2023 Asian Games will not hinder Government spending on social issues, Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs Raymond Young says.

In a recent interview with, Mr Young said hosting major events can boost Hong Kong's international profile, and he urged people to consider the city's potential bid for the games from a long-term perspective.

With many other cities in the region competing for international exposure, Hong Kong has a unique opportunity to boost its presence by hosting the games, which will bring long-term benefits, he said.

"This is a very small place and people will very easily forget about us. So we have to, from time to time, organise major international events to keep people's interest in Hong Kong."

Sharing his experience in organising the 2005 World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference in his capacity as the Director-General of Trade & Industry, Mr Young said the Government faced strong public opposition and criticism at the time.

"We successfully managed to organise such an event in 2005 and we won a lot of favourable comments from around the world that really raised Hong Kong's profile."

Balanced development In response to criticism against the proposed bid, Mr Young said people should have a more long-term view of Hong Kong's development.

"Of course we are facing a lot of social issues where we could actually do with much more resources. But I do not think it is a zero-sum game. While we pay attention to social problems, we also need balanced development in Hong Kong. We also need to ensure our citizens' good health and the long-term development of sport.

"I think we should focus on whether the issue itself deserves our support, and as we have mentioned in the consultation document, organising such an event will bring a lot of benefits."

Hosting the games will result in the earlier completion of a host of sporting facilities and venues which will become a lasting legacy for our community, he said.

These facilities, which will be built to international standards, will benefit a lot of Hong Kong people - both residents and athletes. They will also attract more international sporting events to the city.

The games will benefit sports development, especially for elite athletes, giving them precious opportunities to showcase their talent.

Mr Young believed hosting the games will help promote a sports culture in the city.

"If we actually succeed in getting the bid, the entire community's interest in sport will be drummed up tremendously."

Sports policy
Refuting criticism the Government does not have a long-term sports policy, he reiterated its long-term objectives to develop and promote sports.

These objectives are to:
* encourage the general public to take part in sports;
* nurture elite athletes; and,
* position Hong Kong as a regional centre for international sports events.

Mr Young said the Leisure & Cultural Services Department organised more than 30,000 community sports activities last year, attracting 2 million people. The Government also subsidises "national sports associations" and launches sports training programmes in schools.
The Hong Kong Sports Institute gets $160 million each year from the Government to train 900 elite athletes, seeing more outstanding sports results. As at June, 32 athletes from seven sports had attained top-20 world rankings, with 29 athletes in six sports ranked among the top 10 in Asia.

To nurture more sustainable major sports events, the Government has launched the "M" Mark System and Support Package in which "M" Mark status will be awarded to the recognised major sports events held in Hong Kong, and a package of tailor-made support measures will be provided.

"Bidding for the 2023 Asian Games is in line with our long-term sport policy and we believe we should grasp this opportunity.
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