Zeal for Olympians dashes HK localists’ plot
Sunday was like a carnival for sports fans in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, because the elite Olympians from the national team, who had returned from the Rio Olympic Games, paid a three-day visit to the city, culminating in a number of entertaining shows presented by the athletes .
The warm welcome the Olympians received could be anticipated even before they arrived, as the 5,700 tickets for the three performance events, which went on sale on Aug 22, sold out in just a couple of hours. Some diehard sports enthusiasts had even lined up a day before the tickets went on sale, and tickets with a face value of HK$20 ($2.58), were scalped at over HK$1,000 on the internet!
Nor were Sunday’s performances a disappointment for local fans who were lucky enough to grab a ticket. Those who attended were amazed by the sporting prowess of the athletes – fancy routines by the gold-sweeping divers, table tennis world champions Ma Long andXuXin playing three balls simultaneously, and badminton star Lin Dan using a badminton racket to play table tennis. The spectators cheered and laughed, reveling in the antics of the nation’s sports stars. HongKong people’s enthusiastic support for athletes of the Chinese national team dates back even beforeHong Kong returned to China in 1997. In the early 1980s, when the Chinese women’s volleyball team swept the world and won five consecutive world championship titles, HongKong people, like their compatriots on the mainland, were over the moon about their marvelous achievements. Whenever there was a final between China and another team, residents in the city grouped around TVs to watch. In 2008 when Beijing held the Summer Olympics, HongKong people welcomed the Olympic torch with great zeal, and cheered for the great performance by athletes from the national team at the games. There is also profound cooperation betweenHong Kong and the mainland in the field of sports. For instance, local cycling star Sarah LeeWaisze, bronze medalist in the final of the women’s Keirin event at the 2012 London Olympics, was trained by Shen Jinkang, who was a mainland cyclist and former head coach of the national men’s cycling team. Lee and her teammates went to Kunming in Yunnan province every year to train on the plateau with Shen. However, in recent years, a vociferous minority in the city has exploited every occasion, including sporting events, to stoke anti-mainland sentiment and advocate separatist ideas. On Aug 6, the first day of competition in the Rio Games, someHong Kongnetizens expressed their schadenfreudeonthe internetwhenthe Chinese nationalteamfailed towin any goldmedalandthewomen’s volleyballteamlost its first group matchto theNetherlands. Onthe night ofAug12, exploiting the occasion ofanOlympicbadminton mixeddoublesmatchbetween ChauHoi-wahandLeeChun-hei representingHongKongandZhao YunleiandZhangNanfrom the national team, a fewlocal groups even organized a “watching event” inMongKokto promote separatist sentiment. These deeds not only trampled the Olympic spirit of mutual respectandunderstanding, but also tarnished the image of HongKong.
Luckily these unscrupulous localists, despite the loud noise they have made, are just a fringe group inHong Kong society. The event inMong Kok only managed to attract around 100 people, while the majority of the city’s residents extended a very warm welcome to the mainland’s Olympians, vividly demonstrating local residents’ support and love for the national team.