Participants of the Cyclothon and the New World Harbour Race will be banned from displaying slogans such as “come on Hong Kong” at the upcoming events, as organisers warned they will involve the police if people refuse to cooperate.
Organisers of the cycling competition and the cross-harbour swim announced on Wednesday that the events will return to the city after they were cancelled for two years owing to the 2019 anti-extradition bill protests and the subsequent Covid-19 pandemic.
According to local media, Manson Hung, director of event & product development at the Tourism Board said that, if cyclists show political slogans on their clothes or bicycles at the event scheduled for January, the organisers will first ask them to remove them. If this is to no avail, then they will then involve the “appropriate law enforcement departments.”
When asked if “come on Hong Kong” – or literally “Hong Kong add oil” – was an inappropriate Cantonese phrase, Hung responded: “I think you understand.”
The swimming race, will which take place next month, will adopt a similar arrangement. Ronnie Wong, president of the Hong Kong China Swimming Association, told local media on Wednesday that if a political phrase is written on the body and cannot wiped away, the swimmer will be barred from entering the water. The organiser will later decide whether or not to provide backup swimwear for the participants.
“[I] hope people won’t meddle in politics,” Wong said, adding police will be on stand-by at the event venue.
Last month, some runners in the Standard Chartered marathon were surrounded by police or warned over “political” attire. Some were warned over clothes or a tattoo that contained the ambigram “Hong Kong add oil.” The slogan was popular during the 2019 pro-democracy protests and denotes encouragement.
The UK’s Standard Chartered bank – the chief sponsor of the event – later refused to say whether it supported free speech in Hong Kong.