Hongkongers gathered to greet the city’s Olympic heroes during a bus parade in Kowloon on Thursday morning.
Crowds waved and cheered as the athletes passed by en route to West Kowloon’s Xiqi Centre for a ceremony.
Onlooker Henry Ha told HKFP that he watched ten hours of Olympic coverage every day: “[The athletes] make us proud… we feel they are very committed, especially when Hong Kong is limited in resources in terms of stadiums, training, finances.”
He added that he thought the government’s new investments in sports will put the city on the right track.
Hong Kong won a record six medals in its most successful Olympic games yet in Tokyo this summer.
Fencer Edgar Cheung took home a gold medal, swimmer Siobhan Haughey bagged two silvers and karateka Grace Lau, cyclist Sarah Lee and the table tennis team won bronze.
A student, who gave his name as Lawrence, told HKFP he was most excited to see Haughey: “I just came here to support them.. I just watched [the games] with my family at home – when we saw the athletes got medals, we were absolutely excited.”
Accountant Carlton also said he wanted to see the swimming silver medallist with his two children after witnessing her victory in Tokyo: “I was at work on that day, and we all gathered at the pantry and spent only five minutes there to see how she won the silver medal… it’s never happened to Hong Kong before.”
‘Welcome home’ ceremony
An official “welcome home” reception was presided over by Chief Executive Carrie Lam at lunchtime on Thursday. “I believe that this Olympics, Hong Kong citizens will pay more attention to Hong Kong athletes, and will support Hong Kong’s sports development even more,” said Lam.
“At the same time, citizens will focus more on exercising, and will be more willing to let their children to be involved with sports, and become successors of these athletes,” she added.
On Wednesday, the winning Olympic athletes also attended a ceremony for the Henderson Land Commendation Scheme for Elite Athletes at Central’s IFC mall. Medallists and those who reached the quarter-finals of their events were awarded almost HK$20 million by the development firm.
Local paralympic runner Yam Kwok-fan and swimmer Hui Ka-chun are set to be the flag-bearers at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic opening ceremony next Tuesday. The city has sent 24 athletes to the games.
Additional reporting: Candice Chau.
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