First of all, I would like to congratulate Hong Kong athletes for achieving excellent results in the international sporting arena in 2018/19, including a record-breaking 46 medals at the Asian Games and another 48 medals at the Asian Para Games. Additionally, the athletes brought home another 62 medals from World Championships and 94 medals from Asian Championships, alongside many historic breakthroughs. Notably, Lee Wai-sze became the first Hong Kong cyclist to win two golds in Olympic events at a world championships, and Kong Man-wai became the first local fencer to ascend to the world number one ranking. Hong Kong is proud of them!
These sporting achievements demonstrate the success of the Hong Kong Sports Institute’s (HKSI) elite training system. During 2018/19, substantial growths were reflected in numerous athletes’ support indicators. The HKSI supported over 1,300 athletes in its elite training system, seeing an 8.7% increase in the number of full-time athletes and a 24% increase in expenditure on elite training programmes and direct financial support to athletes. The number of athletes accommodated in the Athlete Hostel has also risen from 339 to 386. In addition, over 78,000 scientific and medical support sessions, and more than 220,000 meals were provided to athletes. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government has committed in the 2018 Policy Address that it would provide elite athletes with greater support in these areas and proactively look into ways to enhance the HKSI’s elite training facilities to augment its development in the long run.
To facilitate athletes’ dual career development in both sports and academic studies, the HKSI continued collaborating with education institutions during the year. It is encouraging that all eight University Grants Committee-funded universities and one tertiary institution are now HKSI partners under formal Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs). They provide a flexible academic arrangement for athletes. In the 2018/19 academic year, a total of 25 athletes – more than double the previous year’s figure – were admitted to universities, and 61 full-time athletes were pursuing secondary education under the Partnership School Programme. I am delighted that the Government has announced in its 2019/20 Budget to inject a further HK$250 million into the Hong Kong Athletes Fund to support athletes’ dual career pathways. This funding also allows for an increase in the Elite Athletes Performance Recognition Scheme cash grants provided to retired full-time athletes.
After signing an MOU with the Preparation Office for the Olympic Games of the General Administration of Sport of China, we attended a number of meetings with various other sports organisations in Beijing during the year to successfully take forward several joint projects to support Hong Kong’s Olympic Games preparations. In order to stay at the forefront of global trends in elite sports development and maintain a leading position, we also organised more than 140 exchange programmes – an increase of 35% on last year – with Mainland and overseas sports professionals during that period.
The HKSI continues to enhance its engagement with the community to promote the value of an elite sports career to the next generation. In 2018/19, the HKSI received over 53,000 visitors and reached over one million members of the public through more than 780 community engagement programmes. The HKSI’s social media campaign has accumulated over 11,000 likes and followers. We have also seen generous support from the private sector in recognising athletes’ sporting achievements. The Jockey Club Athlete Incentive Awards Scheme and the Henderson Land Commendation Scheme for Elite Athletes offered a total of HK$29.8 million to Asian Games and Asian Para Games Hong Kong medallists. The Jockey Club Athlete Incentive Awards Scheme Public Education Campaign also engaged more than 15,000 students and 550,000 citizens through school programmes, public exhibitions and social media.
On behalf of the Board, I offer my sincere gratitude to the HKSAR Government; the Sports Federation & Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China and the National Sports Associations (NSAs); the education sector; the media, sponsors, and the community for their long-term support and collaboration. Appreciation also goes to the HKSI Board members, management, coaches and staff who have made unstinting efforts to ensure that the HKSI’s high performance training system provides a dynamic and professional environment for elite athletes in their quest for sporting success.
As we move closer to our next major goal – the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, our focus is to help athletes reach their peak performance. I look forward to working closely with all parties to make sure the HKSI continues to deliver a world-class elite sport training and athlete support system for Hong Kong, and to assist Hong Kong athletes in achieving sustainable world-class results and scaling new heights in the international sporting arena.
Dr Lam Tai-fai SBS JP
Chairman, Hong Kong Sports Institute Limited