Hong Kong’s ice hockey body has said it may ask athletes not to enter the rink until they had confirmed that sporting event organisers would play the correct anthem. The suggestion came after a song associated with the 2019 protests was played instead of the Chinese national anthem at a recent international match.

Ice Hockey Match Hong Kong Iran National anthem blunder
The protest song Glory to Hong Kong was heard instead of China’s Marches of the People during an ice hockey match between Hong Kong and Iran on February 28. Photo: Screenshot, via Hokejaški Savez Bosne i Hercegovine.

The Hong Kong Ice Hockey Association (HKIHA)’s proposal was revealed in a Tuesday statement responding to criticism laid out by the Sports Federation & Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China (SF&OC) over the blunder before a match on February 28.

After an Ice Hockey World Championship game in Bosnia & Herzegovina, the pro-democracy protest anthem Glory to Hong Kong was played in place of China’s March of the Volunteers.

Last Friday, the SF&OC blasted the ice hockey body’s “administrative” issues and “evasive attitude” over the anthem blunder. It added that match suspension could be a possible punishment against the HKIHA.

While the HKIHA said in Tuesday’s statement that it had made a mistake by not fulfilling SF&OC requirements – which include handing the organiser of the sporting event a USB drive with the correct anthem on – similar anthem blunders had occurred even when other sporting associations followed the guidelines.

The anthem mix-up at the ice hockey match was the fifth of its kind to have occurred within a year.

Edgar Yang
The Honorary Secretary General of the Sports Federation & Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China, Edgar Yang meets the press on March 24, 2023. Photo: RTHK, via video screenshot.

As a result, the HKIHA proposed that players refrain from entering the rink until the anthem had been verified with event organisers. It suggested that the SF&OC consider adding that approach to its guidelines so that other Hong Kong sporting associations could follow suit.

Tried its ‘best’

Meanwhile, the ice hockey body said the competition organiser in Bosnia & Herzegovina had confirmed that the HKIHA had tried its best to verify the anthem.

In an email from the Chief of Competition Mirzet Hodžić on Monday and shown to the press by the HKIHA, Hodžić said a team leader could only check the national anthem in his presence.

While he had agreed to verify the anthem with Hong Kong team’s leader Annie Kwan, Hodžić said he had been “too busy” to show up despite Kwan looking for him “everywhere and many times.”

“We can verify that Ms Kwan is highly responsible and had tried her very best to look for our help during the Championship. We are sorry that we were not able to meet her before the wrong anthem was played,” the email read.


On Friday, the SF&OC also criticised the ice hockey association over its reliance on a sole member – Kwan – to handle all matters, and its executive committee’s unresponsiveness to enquiries.

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In response, the HKIHA said it had thought it was “most appropriate” for the team leader to directly report to the SF&OC as the reporting was listed as one of the team leader’s responsibility in the sports federation’s guidelines.

It added that its chairperson Kan Yeung-kit had two phone calls with Edgar Yang, the honorary secretary general of the SF&OC, and responded to messages from Yang and another SF&OC staff. Kwan was also in touch with the sports federation, and all required reports were submitted on time.

“During this period, our association did not refuse or evade communication with the SF&OC, but it was inappropriate to give a response before the situation became clear,” the HKIHA statement read.

The HKIHA said it understood that it must bear responsibility over the anthem blunder.

“But we hope the SF&OC can see each sporting association, including HKIHA, as a partner, and work hand in hand on all possible areas to avoid anthem blunders,” it added.

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Peter Lee

Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.