British rock band Blur were not refused a visa to perform in Hong Kong and did not apply for one, a spokesperson for the band has told HKFP, after their bassist claimed that the band was “not allowed back” into the city.

British rock band Blur. Photo: Sonic PR.
British rock band Blur. Photo: Sonic PR.

Blur’s bassist Alex James said on Monday during a BBC Radio 6 show that the band had wanted to finish their live tour in Hong Kong before the end of the year. “But then, apparently, the Chinese government consider us to be bad actors, so we’re not allowed back in Hong Kong sadly,” he said.

Under Hong Kong’s immigration policies, foreigners – including foreign bands – must apply for a work visa to take up employment of any kind, including performing at music events.

Nevertheless, the Immigration Department told HKFP on Tuesday that it had not received any visa application from the band, adding that “the spread of misleading information is unacceptable and has to be condemned.”

A spokesperson for Blur told HKFP on Wednesday that “the band did not apply for a visa.”

The spokesperson added that Blur had received an invitation from a “branded event” in Hong Kong, but the conversation fell through in the early stages and there was no discussion of logistics. The spokesperson did not identify the brand.

blur 2015
Blur in Hong Kong, 2015. Photo: HKFP.

Blur did not immediately respond to follow-up inquiries from HKFP about the meaning of James’s claim.

Work visas for foreign bands

Failure to obtain a work visa for foreign performing acts could lead to a violation of conditions to stay. Authorities arrested UK indie band This Town Needs Guns in 2017 for performing at a live house without a work permit.

Blur were last in Hong Kong in 2015 on a tour to promote their album The Magic Whip, which they had partially recorded in the city earlier that year.

Support HKFP  |  Policies & Ethics  |  Error/typo?  |  Contact Us  |  Newsletter  | Transparency & Annual Report | Apps

Help safeguard press freedom & keep HKFP free for all readers by supporting our team

contribute to hkfp methods
hkfp flask store
YouTube video

Support press freedom & help us surpass 1,000 monthly Patrons: 100% independent, governed by an ethics code & not-for-profit.

Success! You're on the list.

Hong Kong Free Press is a new, non-profit, English-language news source seeking to unite critical voices on local and national affairs. Free of charge and completely independent, HKFP arrives amid rising concerns over declining press freedom in Hong Kong and during an important time in the city’s constitutional development.