The Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Tsang Tak-sing, today (February 16) said that the 300-day countdown activity held on February 8 ushered in a new phase of the preparation work for the 5th East Asian Games (EAG) and he looked forward to the support and co-operation of Hong Kong people to fully engage in the games.
The 5th EAG will be held from December 5 to 13. Mr Tsang said more than 3,000 athletes from nine countries and regions of East Asia will take part in over 1,700 competitions to vie for 281 gold medals in 23 sports. The number of sports and medals are the largest ever for the EAG, compared with only 12 to 17 sports organised for the previous EAGs.
Mr Tsang said that the Government has been working closely with the 5th East Asian Games Planning Committee to prepare for the EAG since Hong Kong won the right to host the games.
On the budget of the EAG, Mr Tsang said that the estimated total expenditure for the games was $240 million, of which $123 million was Government funding while the EAG Company had raised $74 million. He said he believed that the books could be balanced after other income was raised from concerts, admission tickets, merchandise sales and fees for providing accommodation to visiting delegations.
Mr Tsang said he expected that over 10,000 tourists would visit Hong Kong during the EAG and the number of people watching the games on-site would exceed 200,000. On transport, he said most of the venues are easily accessible and the organiser would consider providing feeder services to distant venues and preparing traffic guidelines for the public.
He said that the EAG would be held at 21 sports venues. The Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground would soon be opened and of the 13 venues being upgraded, eight had been completed, with the remaining five due for completion in the middle of the year.
A total of 1,000 jobs had arisen from the EAG construction and upgrading work. An additional 1,000 temporary jobs would be created via various service contracts during the period that 2009 East Asian Games (Hong Kong) Ltd was preparing for the games.
Mr Tsang said hosting the EAG would not only benefit local sports development, but also enhance public interest in sports and strengthen the people's sense of belonging and community cohesiveness. He said that huge resources spent by the Government in building a new sports ground and upgrading existing venues would lay the groundwork for future hosting of international sports events and furnish people with good sports facilities.
The Chairman of the 5th East Asian Games Planning Committee (EAGPC), Mr Timothy Fok, who was also at the press conference, said significant support had been secured from various sectors, including the sports community, District Councils, the performance sector, business enterprises, community organisations and schools. They helped in composing and singing the theme songs, thematic venue design and publicity as well as promotion activities in various districts.
Mr Fok said an organising committee had been created under the EAGPC to oversee the work of five co-ordinating committees, covering the opening and closing ceremonies, traffic and transportation, immigration security and accreditation arrangement, publicity and community engagement, and medical services.
Outlining the publicity work of the EAG, the Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Mr Thomas Chow, said that to further enhance public awareness of the EAG, the theme song for the EAG, "You are the Legend", had been uploaded onto the websites of the EAG Company and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) and people could download it as a ring tone. The TV Announcement of Public Interest on the 2009 EAG would be broadcast on various TV channels from tonight. A float bearing the theme of the EAG took part in the recent International New Year Night Parade, bringing the mascots "Dony" and "Ami" to the people and overseas visitors.
Mr Chow announced that a variety of promotion and publicity work would be widely launched at district and school levels as well as abroad:
- "Blossoming Welcome for the EAG" will be adopted as the theme of the Hong Kong Flower Show 2009 to be held in March with souvenirs of the EAG to be put on display and sale at the venue of the show.
- Roving exhibitions will be staged in venues of the Home Affairs Department, sports venues of the LCSD and seven major shopping arcades throughout the territory from March. Mascots "Dony" and "Ami" will be mounted at LCSD sports venues, tourism spots and major shopping centres in April.
- Over 400 banners on display in the 18 districts since October last year will be updated and increased from time to time to enhance their attraction. Thematic decorations will continually appear at major venues.
- Assistance of the 18 District Councils (DCs) will be sought in undertaking beautification projects and residents and district organisations will be encouraged to sponsor decoration work so as to highlight district support for the EAG. The DCs will be invited to organise community activities in their districts in response to the EAG with the theme of "Green, Cultural and Energetic", such as green activities, wall picture painting contests, photography and collective aerobic exercises.
- "Heart warming Stamps" will be released by the Hong Kong Post Office in March and August while commemorative stamps will be issued on December 5, the day the EAG opening ceremony is held.
- The 2nd Hong Kong Games scheduled for May will serve as a prelude to get the public prepared for the EAG. Some of the finals of the Hong Kong Games will be held at the venues to be used for the EAG to test their efficacy.
- EAG learning and teaching materials are being produced for use by teachers to introduce the EAG and related information to students. The Sports Federation & Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China, will assist in holding seminars while the Cheerleading Federation of Hong Kong (China) will assist in organising about 20,000 students to cheer for the games during the competition period.
- A 200-day countdown activity and a 100-day countdown torch relay will be held on May 19 and August 27.
- The Government will publicise the EAG via its Economic and Trade Offices overseas and will join the Hong Kong Tourism Board to promote the games among overseas visitors.
Chief Executive Officer of 2009 East Asian Games (Hong Kong) Ltd, Mr Johnny Woo, briefly introduced initial ideas for the opening ceremony and the company responsible for it, the Beijing Beiao Grand Cultural & Sports Events Co. Ltd. The opening ceremony will take place on December 5 at the Cultural Centre Piazza in Tsim Sha Tsui against the background of Victoria Harbour. There will be a grand opening with a large-scale pyrotechnic display at a platform erected off the Cultural Centre Piazza.
For ticketing arrangements, Mr Woo said the EAG Company was formulating a detailed marketing strategy. He said that the preliminary idea was that what people could afford would be the main consideration and most of the tickets would cost less than $100.
Concluding the press conference, the Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs, Mrs Carrie Yau, said that the EAG preparation work had made good progress. She said she firmly believed that based on previous experience and the co-operation of various sectors, Hong Kong would hold a successful EAG that will not be extravagant but will have its own characteristics.
Emphasising that a successful 2009 EAG depended on the support of various community sectors and the Hong Kong people, she called on the mass media to put across the EAG message to the community so as to mobilise their support.
The 2009 EAG participating countries / regions are China, Japan, Korea, Democratic Peopleˇ¦s Republic of Korea, Mongolia, Chinese Taipei, Guam, Macau and Hong Kong, which is the host of the games. Of the 23 sports, seven are newly added, comprising body building, cue sports, cycling, rugby sevens, squash, table tennis and windsurfing.
For details of the 2009 EAG, please visit the dedicated webpage (www.2009eastasiangames.hk) and the LCSD's homepage (www.lcsd.gov.hk).
Ends/Monday, February 16, 2009
Issued at HKT 19:12