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LCQ2: Re-establishing Hong Kong's good reputation as "events capital"
     Following is a question by the Hon Dominic Lee and a reply by the Secretary for Culture, Sports and Tourism, Mr Kevin Yeung, in the Legislative Council today (November 9):


     It is learnt that with the territory's epidemic situation becoming stabilised, and the restrictions for epidemic prevention gradually relaxed, quite a number of major international sports events or activities have been relaunched gradually. On re-establishing Hong Kong's good reputation as an "events capital", will the Government inform this Council:

(1) given that the Government will set up a Mega Arts and Cultural Events Fund (the Fund) through which four major arts and cultural events will be funded annually starting from next year, and that it has been reported that the funding ceiling for each of such events will be set at $15 million, whether the Government will consider increasing its allocation to the Fund, so as to raise the funding ceiling for each event and increase the number of events to be benefited; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(2) whether it will consider focusing the Fund on providing funding for events which have never been held in Hong Kong or which have been switched in recent years from being held in Hong Kong to being held in other places, as well as formulating key performance indicators for the Fund; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(3) as the authorities have established the "M" Mark System under which the "M" Mark status is awarded to recognised major sports events held in Hong Kong and funding is provided for such events, whether it has assessed the effectiveness of the "M" Mark in promoting Hong Kong as an "events capital" in the past five years, and whether it knows what enhancement measures will be put in place by the authorities in the coming year to upgrade the 12 events which are currently receiving the "M" Mark funding, and to attract more major sports events to be held in Hong Kong?



     The development of arts and culture, creative industries, sports and tourism complements and drives each other. In particular, organising different types of large scale events and attracting international events to anchor in Hong Kong is an indispensable part of the development.

     My reply to the three parts of the Hon Lee's question is as follows:

(1) and (2) The National 14th Five-Year Plan has expressed clear support for Hong Kong to develop into an East-meets-West centre for international cultural exchange. This has not only manifested our Country's expectation of Hong Kong, but has also given full recognition to the flourishing and diverse growth of arts, culture and creative industries in Hong Kong over the past years and provided the sector with continuous development opportunities. This positioning echoes the directions of the Culture and Tourism Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, which has indicated support for Hong Kong to develop into a more competitive global platform for cultural exchange. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government has seized upon Hong Kong's unique creative atmosphere where Chinese and Western cultures meet and formulated strategic directions to support the development of Hong Kong into an East-meets-West centre for international cultural exchange.

     It is promulgated in this year's Policy Address that the Government will set up the Mega Arts and Cultural Events Fund (Mega Events Fund) to entice international and mega arts and cultural events to anchor at Hong Kong, with a view to developing Hong Kong into an arts and cultural metropolis, providing development opportunities for the arts, cultural and creative sectors, and facilitating arts and cultural exchange. The Mega Arts and Cultural Events Committee (Mega Events Committee), comprising leaders from the arts and cultural and other sectors, will provide advice to the Government on the operation of the Mega Events Fund, as well as assist the Government in fighting for arts and cultural events (including those that have never been held in Hong Kong or moved to other places in recent years) to anchor at Hong Kong and assessing applications under the Mega Events Fund.

     The Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau (CSTB) is making preparations for setting up the Mega Events Committee. At the same time, the CSTB will launch the pilot scheme for the Mega Events Fund for applications from organisers of the signature arts and cultural events to be held in 2023. Based on the experience from the pilot scheme, the CSTB will regularise the application procedure for the Mega Events Fund in 2023, with the Mega Events Committee advising on the assessment of the applications. We have already formulated the key performance indicator for the Mega Events Fund to fund around four events annually, with the total attendance of at least 100 000.

(3) The Government has all along been committed to promoting sports development and developing Hong Kong into a centre for major international sports events. In 2004, the "M" Mark System (the System) was introduced to support local national sports associations (NSAs) to host major international sports events in Hong Kong through provision of matching fund and direct grant. In order to further enhance support for NSAs to stage international sports events, the Government allocated $500 million to implement a new Major Sports Events Matching Grant Scheme (the Scheme) in 2019 to encourage further sponsorship from the business sector to promote the launch of more top-level competitions locally. Measures to improve the Scheme include: (i) raising the funding ceiling to $10 million for each event and abolishing the sliding scale mechanism for the funding amount; (ii) expanding the funding scope to cover exhibition matches or tournaments organised by local NSAs that involve world-class top athletes or teams and can attract a large number of spectators; and (iii) enhancing the flexibility in the use of event surplus to allow NSAs to make use of the surplus to develop their respective sports.

     Since its implementation in April 2019, the Scheme has been well-received, with the number of events planned per year increased from 13 at most in the past to 15 in 2019. However, some "M" Mark events were cancelled or postponed due to the social incidents in the second half of 2019, and most of the major international sports events originally scheduled for 2020 to the first half of 2022 were also cancelled or postponed one after another due to the COVID-19 epidemic. During the period from April 2019 to September 2022, a total of 45 "M" Mark event applications were received. Among them, 10 "M" Mark events were successfully held eventually, receiving $37.31 million of matching fund and attracting about 260 000 spectators in total.

     The Chief Executive stated in the Policy Address that in order to attract more major international sports events to be held in Hong Kong, the Government will consider further enhancing the System, including raising the funding ceiling for each event, abolishing the quota for "M" Mark events that can be organised by the same applicant each year, etc. The eligibility of applicants will also be reviewed and relaxed to cover events organised by NSAs and related organisations to support more major international sports events to be held in Hong Kong.
Ends/Wednesday, November 9, 2022
Issued at HKT 12:50
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