Zeal for Olympians dashes HK lo­cal­ists’ plot

China Daily (USA) - - VIEWS - The au­thor is an ed­i­tor with China Dai­lyHong Kong Edi­tion. machao@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

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.

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