Two Hong Kong sports associations have said they were disappointed by the government’s request that they cut quotas for two upcoming competitions due to Covid-19 concerns.

The Hong Kong 10k Championships 2022, held by the Hong Kong Association of Athletics Affiliates (HKAAA), was cancelled on Wednesday after the organiser was told to “drastically reduce” its quota from the original 1,500 places.

The Hong Kong 10k Championships 2021. Photo: HKAAA.

Another competition, the Cross Harbour Race to be held by the Hong Kong China Swimming Association (HKGSA), was also ordered to reduce its quota to 500 people, which would include staff members.

HKAAA and HKGSA said in a joint statement on Wednesday evening that the groups wished to “place on record their disappointment regarding the Hong Kong SAR Government’s decision this week to drastically reduce the race quota.”

“These short-notice decisions are of great concern to both parties and create major issues for those responsible for organizing these high-profile public sporting events in Hong Kong, despite their best efforts in engaging in intensive dialogue with relevant government departments and public health bodies over many months,” the statement read.

The Hong Kong 10k Championships, which was scheduled to be held on Sunday in Tin Shui Wai, was one of the city’s try-out competitions for international races, said HKAAA’s Chairperson Kwan Kee on Commercial Radio on Thursday.

In its cancellation announcement, HKAAA said it had liaised with the government since May to meet Covid-19 prevention requirements, including “requiring all participating runners to be fully vaccinated, to carry out a pre-race PCR test and to start the race by way of a rolling-start.”

Photo: New World Harbour Race.

“However, after accepting runners to participate on the above basis, the drastic cut of quota in the recent additional request from the Government means that we cannot guarantee fairness to all those runners who have registered and paid,” the statement on Wednesday read.

Ronnie Wong, chairperson of HKGSA, said on Commercial Radio on Wednesday that the government rejected the association’s suggestion of having a rolling start to allow swimmers to begin the race in different batches.

Hong Kong has seen an increase in the number of Covid-19 infections again since the fifth wave of the pandemic ebbed several months ago.

The city recorded 8,579 new Covid-19 infections and nine new deaths on Thursday. Hong Kong has reported 1,487,972 cases and 9,643 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic over two years ago.

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Candice Chau

Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.