Formulating sports policy and development blueprint over the coming decade
MR CHAN CHUN-YING (in Cantonese):
Deputy President, the Hong Kong, China delegation has reaped great harvests by capturing one gold, two silver and three bronze medals at the Tokyo Olympic Games this year, which are the best results ever. Such results are actually the convergence of many people’s efforts, including unremitting efforts of the athletes, taxing dedication of the coaches, and massive resources allocated by the SAR Government.
At this Olympic Games, people ranging from the Chief Executive to the general public, regardless of social classes and political beliefs, and be they at office or in a shopping mall, will all unite to cheer for every appearance of Hong Kong athletes. As Siobhan Bernadette HAUGHEY “The Flying Fish” said, “So many people are watching the games this time, and this seems to have united everyone to become more powerful.” I thank Mr Vincent CHENG for his timely proposal of this motion to urge the Government to pay attention to the sports policy and development. I will support the original motion and Mr MA Fung-kwok’s amendment.
The SAR Government proposed in 2002 that the three goals of sports development are supporting elite sports, promoting sports in the community and developing Hong Kong into a centre for major international sports events. On supporting elite sports, as the Secretary has just mentioned, the Government has allocated $730 million to the Hong Kong Sports Institute in 2021-2022, which means a 42% increase over the level of four years ago; also, the number of elite sports has increased to 20 from 13 of 10 years ago.
In fact, elite sports and sports for all are in a positively interactive relationship with each other. For example, the national team and the Japanese team were in heated competition on the matching ground of table tennis at this Olympic Games. Table tennis is traditionally a strong suit of the country, yet the Japanese team has also been improving with an amazing speed and that is supposedly closely related to the growth of the table tennis population in Japan. As revealed by statistics, the number of enrollees in Japanese table tennis competitions had surged from 290 000 in 2006 to 350 000 in 2018.
Similar effects can also be observed in Hong Kong, and that is the “Ka-long effect” and the “Flying-fish craze” that make interest classes in fencing and swimming full instantly. Hong Kong’s sports atmosphere becomes much exuberant after the Tokyo Olympics Games, thus proving that elite sports can boost the trend of sports for all. The Government should seize the opportunity for promotion by organizing more interest classes for children or students, so as to facilitate the identifying of potential young players for long-term focused training.
However, given the particular limit of the career span and the uncertainty-ridden way forward after retirement, many people shrink back from being professional athletes. Our three bronze-medal table tennis players have suspended their schooling for full-time practices many years ago. Fortunately, they have not let us down and achieved their personal goal. It is glad that they had their parents’ support back then. However, the support that full-time athletes need does not come only from their family members; rather, they particularly need the complements from the whole community in further studies and employment after retirement.
In our Motherland, many national athletes would go to study at famous educational establishments such as the Peking University and the Tsinghua University on recommendation after retirement. Recently, the University of Hong Kong announced that it will launch the Top Athletes Direct Admission Scheme in the coming academic year. Exceptionally, the scheme will take sports as the principal screening criterion for admission, thus providing an additional channel for athletes to study at institutes of higher education. The Government should promote the offering of such kind of schemes by more institutes of higher education, so that athletes will not miss their opportunities to learn.
Various sectors in the community are also concerned about the long-term career development of elite athletes. Given athletes’ perseverance and their team spirit, joining the disciplined forces is quite a nice direction for their development. Currently, there are already over 60 former Hong Kong team athletes in the Hong Kong Police Force. I look forward that the Civil Service Bureau can be flexible with the recruitment criteria, so that athletes beyond school age may, as long as they meet other conditions, join the disciplined forces or even other grades in the Government first after retirement with subsequent pursuit of further studies to satisfy the requirement on academic attainment, thereby attracting them to join the civil service.
Deputy President, Mr MA Fung-kwok raised an amendment to propose the establishment of a “Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau”, with the hope to let the three areas synergize through effective coordination for organizing large cultural activities and sports competitions to attract foreign and local visitors, thus turning such activities and competitions into “mega events for all”.
Recently, there have been media reports that Guangzhou intends to join Hong Kong and other cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (“GBA”) to apply for hosting the 15th National Games in 2025. With the developments in recent years and the formation of the transport infrastructure in the “one-hour living circle”, conditions are ripe for GBA cities to co-host international competitions. If Hong Kong can take part in hosting the National Games, I believe it will be conducive to enhancing the sense of national identity, and the present sports craze can also be kept on through such kind of mega sports events.
I so submit. Thank you, Deputy President.