LCQ13: Hong Kong Marathon

     Following is a question by the Hon Ma Fung-kwok and a written reply by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Tsang Tak-sing, in the Legislative Council today (March 19):


     It has been reported that some participants of the Hong Kong Marathon pointed out that members of the public had been unable to cheer the participants of the races on both sides of the race routes because they had had difficulties in accessing the routes, most sections of which being on expressways. In addition, as a result of the short duration of road closure approved by the authorities, the starting times for the races were set at an hour far too early and the quota for participants in the races could not be increased to meet the demand. These participants opined that in future, the authorities should consider extending the duration of road closure for the races, and allowing more sections of the race routes to traverse the city centre. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the respective numbers of road closure applications from sports organisations for holding sports events which were received, approved and rejected by the authorities last year; the mechanism and considerations which the authorities currently adopt for vetting and approving such applications; whether they will take measures to support, as far as possible, the organisers in holding those events for which road closure has been approved; if they will, of the details; and

(2) whether the organiser of the Hong Kong Marathon, when making preparation for the event of this year, had made any request to the authorities for implementing road closure for a duration longer than those of previous years, or for more sections of the race routes traversing the city centre; if it had, of the authorities' responses to such requests and their justifications?



     Each year, the Government provides advice on and assistance with arrangements proposed by the Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association (HKAAA), the organiser of the Hong Kong Marathon, in relation to the race route, starting times, the number of participants, safety measures and road closure duration to help ensure safe public participation.

     As the Hong Kong Marathon requires the closure of major roads, the HKAAA has to prepare during the small hours and organise the event to take place in the early morning to minimise its impact on the public. It is very common for marathons to take place in the early morning when the temperature is lower and the air fresher. This can also help to reduce the runners' chance of heatstroke and injury.

     My reply to the two parts of the question is as follows:

(1) In the past year, there were 46 applications from sports organisations to hold sports events involving road closure and special traffic and transport arrangements. All of these applications were approved. When processing these applications, the government departments concerned took account of the scale of individual events, the degree of traffic congestion that might be caused and other potential public impact, and provided advice and assistance to the applying sports organisations with the aim of striking a balance that would allow participants to enjoy the events whilst minimising the impact on other members of the public.

(2) It is the practice of the HKAAA to consult district councils and relevant government departments on the race routes and corresponding traffic and transport arrangements. In preparing for the 2014 event, the HKAAA requested relevant government departments and district councils to agree to extend the closure duration of some of the road sections, and the request was agreed to.

Ends/Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Issued at HKT 11:05