Wherever Incheon is…

Broadcaster, commentator and almost-daily South China Morning Post columnist Albert Cheng announces why the government’s consultation paper Should Hong Kong Chuck 10/50/whatever Billion Bucks Down the Toilet to Host the 2023 Asian Games? is so half-hearted. The idea, he says, is simply to give face to the lineage of blazer-wearing sports supremo Timothy Fok, whose late father Henry – Korean War sanctions-buster and patriotic tycoon – was long Beijing’s most-trusted Hongkonger.

It could be that our top officials see expenditure of Hong Kong people’s money on such a project as impractical and pointless vanity at a time when so many basic health and welfare needs are going unmet. But, far more likely, with one failed Asia Games bid to their credit and a hostile citizenry snapping at them at every opportunity, officials just have little interest in the whole rigmarole. Even Home Affairs Secretary Tsang Tak-sing looks more lugubrious than usual peddling the non-starter.

One clue in favour of Cheng’s theory is that the government’s case for holding the mini-Olympics in the Big Lychee rests mainly on the benefits to local sport. The Asian Games would improve performance by our elite athletes and, apparently, boost confidence among just-plain-folks about taking part in healthy outdoor physical pursuits. Economic benefits, usually the one and only raison d’etre of government visions, come out at a seriously underwhelming HK$0.4-0.6bn, with a frank admission that the event would be a money-loser.

Warming to its Fok-friendly theme, the otherwise brief consultation document goes into detail about what are, we are told, three clear strategic directions for the long-term development of sport in Hong Kong:

  • to help our elite athletes achieve excellence;
  • to develop a strong sporting culture in the community; and
  • to raise our profile as a centre for international sports events.

This is almost begging the public to shout the plan down. If our elite athletes should achieve excellence in anything it should be in a commercially productive activity, be it floor-sweeping, burger-flipping or any other vocation, rather than living off taxpayers’ money while indulging in such pastimes as cycling, table tennis or that cowardly fencing-with-face-masks. Developing a strong sporting culture in the community is as likely as turning Hong Kong into a city of art appreciation and scientific research (though officials have lavished taxpayers’ funds upon both these hopeless aims).

As for raising our profile as a centre for international sports events, this sounds like the sort of desperate mewling you get from loser cities like Dubai, Shanghai and Singapore, constantly vying with each other to host over-hyped bore-fests like Formula 1 car racing. Raymond Young, the top civil servant in the Home Affairs Bureau, wittily parodies the pathetic, hand-wringing anguish of such second-rate municipalities over at the new-look government propaganda site, where in-house reporters ask officials the questions the tiresome external media don’t:

“We can no longer assume that the international community will always focus on Hong Kong. This is a very small place and people will very easily forget about us. So we have to, from time to time, organize major international events to keep people’s interest in Hong Kong.”

That might sound logical to Timothy Fok (last seen swanning around at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi), but it won’t convince the other seven million of us, living in Asia’s undisputed and hard-to-forget hub of press freedom, rule of law, glamorous stock market listings, property price insanity, 3-D porn movies, and so much more. We don’t need no stinkin’ Asian Games, everyone is saying. Leave it to Incheon.

The public consultation paper does contain one highly interesting point. A brief section on ‘Other Considerations’ (p.13 of the English text) raises the possibility that our city’s air quality may not meet athletes’ expectations. Maybe this will satisfy those tireless souls who are constantly asking when officials will get around to doing something about the pollution problem. The answer is now clear: not for at least another 13 years.

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12 Responses to Wherever Incheon is…

  1. Bigot says:

    “Keep people’s interest in Hong Kong”?
    What happened to HK’s antique architecture?

  2. Kim says:

    I know without googling that Incheon is a city in South Korea. A former colleague married one of its natives. If she is representative of the general populace, they will have difficulties rustling up the Beijing’08-style army of young, lithe, smiling, perfect and identical ceremonial hostess-maidens. Even HK might place ahead in that event.

  3. Maugrim says:

    We’re competing against Incheon, a place that was used as a base for the allied defense of Korea during the war, a place surrounded by miles of disgusting looking tidal mud flats and and heavy industry? We’re worried that by not winning we will lose face? By not contesting this we will win more than we could ever dream of, especially if it means we don’t have to see the Fokster in his white HK blazer.

  4. Dirty Gertie from Number 30 says:

    There is something about the great bulbous forehead of Tsang Tak-sing (Home Affairs Secretary, pictured above) that makes me want to hit it many times with a toffee hammer.

  5. Samuel Clemens says:

    Hong Kong would gain much more respect if, publicly and ostentatiously, we declined to be patsy hosts to yet another money-losing, morale-sapping sporting extravaganza that only serves to stroke the egos of a few arseholes in big blazers.

    I guess that means we’re going to do it.

  6. gweipo says:

    spend the money on creating some centrally located parks with running tracks so that schools with lots of fat kids and fatter teachers can get there easily and exercise their bodies instead of just cramming stuff in their minds in order to score well on exams.
    And tear down all the “temporary” signs in public parks where all the fit and healthy and slim elderly on meagre pensions gather to do their daily taichi. That I’d support.

    That way we’ll save money on a potential financial disaster, and also save money on health care now and in the future.

  7. Big Al says:

    Personally, I’ve always thought that our bulbous-headed, elongated-chinned, bespectacled Secretary for Home Affairs looks remarkably like “Mr Logic” from Viz Comic who, incidentally, is also a pain in the arse.

    http://www.vizartwork.co.uk/index.asp?function=PRODUCTIMAGEWINDOW&SRC=http://www.vizartwork.co.uk/ekmps/shops/vizartwork/images/cimg1062[ekm]106×80[ekm].jpg

  8. Big Al says:

    If you want to see the image, add both cases of ekm to [ekm] in the link (open square bracket ekm close square bracket, in case these brackets are automatically removed …

  9. 14k Gold Medal says:

    There is some irony in the son of a gun runner is now trying to bring athletics to this city.

    Didn’t his brother get nicked for shipping 15,000 AK47s a few years ago?

  10. Toddy says:

    If we are going to host the Asian games in 2023, I’d like to see some events added to the roster that have a distinctly local flavour. In particular, I’d be keen for a subset of events featuring “Fat Rich Gweipos who seriously moderate comments submitted to their blog sites”. How much gin they could knock over between the hour of 6 and 7 pm would be one where we would win hands down, and thus should be included. Also, back-o-the-legs-cellulite-yardage-area has to be pushed for as we would very likely get gold and a world record.

  11. Mike Hunt says:

    Don’t you sometimes have this dream when things are just not right, and it won’t go away and you are feeling annoyed, and then at the end of the dream you get a vision of the Tsang brothers, Tsang Tak-sing and his brother -ex school principal- “Jasper” Tsang, dangling from a lamppost, smack in the middle of Central, and throngs of people are happily singing “The east is red” while waving copies of “Hong Kong Tatler”, and you just know that it is good.

    But then you wake up.

  12. Maugrim says:

    Mike, it’s hard to explain, there’s just something about those two lol. A mixture of nerdy swotiness perhaps. Even the English name one brother chose, Jasper, it fits.

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