With the unprecedented success of the Beijing Olympics and the 2009 East Asian Games following hot on its heels, an increasing number of Hong Kong residents are spending their leisure hours in various sport activities.
In view of this, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, a catalyst for a healthy life balance, is stepping up its commitment to promoting a "sport for all" culture and this year co-organises the second Hong Kong Games (HKG) as part of the lead-up to the eagerly anticipated East Asian Games.
According to Li Choi Wing-kwan, chief leisure manager (major events), Leisure and Cultural Services Department, the HKG is a manifestation of the organising committee's visions, and the ultimate benefits of this biennial endeavour are manifold.
"Our objectives are to encourage sports participation to facilitate exchange and co-operation between districts and build a cohesive atmosphere across the whole of Hong Kong," says Mrs Li, who is secretary general of the HKG organising committee (OC). "It is also hoped that new talent will be discovered."
The HKG is a collaboration between the Sports Commission and the Community Sports Committee, 18 District Councils, the Sports Federation & Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, relevant national sports associations and the LCSD.
The OC also enlisted support from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University who offered a series of sports-related talks as well as physiotherapy services to athletes during competition period.
The first HKG that was held in 2007 saw 1,287 athletes compete in four sports, including athletics, badminton, basketball and table tennis, and engaged more than 100,000 Hong Kong citizens in an array of HKG events.
"This year, we complemented the agenda with swimming and tennis competitions, and the number of athletes has reached 2,300," says Mrs Li. "Mass excitement and enthusiasm have reached new heights."
Li Ning, an esteemed Olympic gold medallist, together with more than 1,000 local athletes and celebrities, kicked off the HKG in the open ceremony earlier this month. To jazz up the event, the public was invited to vote for their favourite sporty districts and guess the overall HKG champion.
Public participation interface is further expanded with a newly introduced "Dynamic Moments Photo Contest". "This will also help to capture the action, excitement and memorable moments of the games," Mrs Li notes.
"Prior to the competition, we helped arrange a series of 'Elite athletes demonstration and exchange' programmes where renowned local athletes and sports coaches shared their experiences with this year's contestants, helping to prepare them physically and psychologically for the games," Mrs Li remarks. A "District with the greatest participation in the second Hong Kong Games" award was also introduced this year with an aim to boost participation at district level.
To promote the event, the LCSD leverages a diverse range of media channels and promotional vehicles. For instance, a designated website with hyperlinks to relevant sports organisations was created for easy access of event updates. A series of promotional videos featuring athletes and the 18 districts was produced and broadcast on public transportation. Banners, posters and lamp-post buntings were on display in LCSD venues and prominent areas in 18 districts to create a community atmosphere.
This year's HKG will cost about HK$10 million and the government is picking up the tab. Mrs Li points out that, the LCSD, as the executive arm of the HKG OC, is monitoring expenses strategically so as to achieve optimal cost-effectiveness.
For example, sponsorship was solicited and more than 100 volunteers recruited to help out. "Experienced LCSD staff are mobilised to oversee or assist with various tasks for the duration," Mrs Li says. "In times like this, the LCSD has its best foot forward and make sure every detail is implemented according to plan."
Setting the stage
Success of the first HKG has created expectations and with that comes the challenge. However, Mrs Li emphasises that that only makes her more determined to achieve higher results.
"Responses from the 18 districts have been encouraging and we are able to build on our foundation of the first HKG and make it a better experience for all parties involved this time around," Mrs Li says, noting that this year's HKG carries a special mission, which is to gear up for the East Asian Games in December.
"This is an excellent opportunity for us to test the capacity of individual venues like the newly built Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground where certain events of the East Asian Games will take place," Mrs Li explains.
- "Sport for all" culture gains new momentum
- Hong Kong's own sporting events build cohesive atmosphere
- Organising committee steps up promotion