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Archive for April, 2007

We all knew it was in the cards. Two years ago, when the HKJC announced their plans to spend $800 million to host the Olympic equestrian events on the neighbouring site to the Sha Tin racecourse, we all predicted the day that the HKJC would find a way to keep the land. Last week, they showed their hand, announcing the need to lease the 44,000 square meters to use as stables for the Sha Tin Racecourse for at least another 7-10 years.

According to a friend who is well connected in JC circles, the club have had their eye on that piece of land for some time. The Olympics provided the ideal opportunity to take it over and even make it look like the JC was doing Hong Kong a great service.  Bring an Olympic event to Hong Kong! How Wonderful! (Applause).

Simonworld did an excellent job dissecting this deal back in 2005, which I highly recommend reading. You can find it here.

Never mind that Hong Kong’s finest athletes, who may only have this one opportunity to qualify and compete in an Olympic event, were kicked out of the only training facility equipped to train at an elite level.

Never mind that they were removed so that Hong Kong can host one of the least attended and least covered events in the Olympic program.

Never mind that Hong Kong people can’t even buy tickets to attend this event.

And how are they to be rewarded? Apparently a redevelopment of the Sports Institute (minus the 44,000 square meters) is being proposed. I haven’t yet seen the plan so cannot comment on it.

However, I found it interesting that the only sport in which Hong Kong has won an Olympic gold medal, has been left with no permanent training facilities. Again.

While the Jockey Club gets 44,000 square meters of space to house their horses, Hong Kong windsurfers are left high and dry.

According to the government, the various sporting associations supported the request from the Jockey Club. Yeah, I’d like to have been a fly on the wall in that meeting. Agree and get this….disagree and get nothing.

Yes, the Jockey Club have done what they do best, appear to be giving when in fact they are taking. They have been using this balance of give and take for years to pressure the government and the public to accept their agendas. They have perfected the art of “passive agressive” policy.

Why doesn’t the Hong Kong government have, as is the case in many other countries, a sports lottery to raise money for sports facilities and athlete training? Perhaps, it may erode the revenues of the Mark 6 lottery. Which of course is run by the JC.

Government officials claim it is because they don’t want to encourage the public to gamble. HELLO! Gamble! in Hong Kong?! And besides, the JC give so much to sport, don’t they?

The JC take on a lot of charity and social responsibility, which in any other country would be the responsibility of the government. In return, they are given many favours. In many areas, like the care of the elderly and financial support to children with disadvantages, they are doing a superb job.

But in the case of the future of Hong Kong sports, maybe it’s time to consider whether they are giving as much as they are getting.

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