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Society

HK Rugby Sevens return with women’s game added for the first time

  • By: Yau To LUM、Tsz Yau CHANEdited by: Ka Ki FUNG
  • 2023-03-31

Hong Kong Sevens game kicked off today at the Hong Kong Stadium. The three-day tournament starts today and will continue through the weekend. 16 men and 12 women teams will be joining the game. Hong Kong women's team played against New Zealand this afternoon, losing out by 50 points. They will be playing against Great Britain’s team tomorrow at 10 am. The local men’s team will be facing Great Britain and Uruguay tomorrow. Despite the rainy weather, local fans, students and tourists slowly lined up for security and ticket check at the front gate at 8 am. Some audience dressed up in costumes to root for their favourite team. Chan Hoi Yee, 16, a rugby fan who had watched the Hong Kong sevens for the sixth time, said, “This year’s game is definitely more energetic, entertaining and fun.”  She thinks that rugby is “the sport that everyone would love” and different from other sports. Kent Smith, 38, who came from Melbourne in Australia, was excited to watch the game for the first time despite the bad weather. “I have never been to Hong Kong. This is my first time here, I am excited to watch the game,” Smith said. He also said that the rainy weather does not really affect the atmosphere in the stadium. Mak Chiu Tsui, 57, a local rugby fan, said this is his 9th time watching the Rugby Sevens. “This time, I am looking forward to watching the women’s games. Since this is the first time the women’s team is playing in Hong Kong,” Mak said. Tickets for the Rugby Sevens games are still on sale, available at the Hong Kong sevens website. The price of a 3-day pass is $1950 for adults and $950 for children.

Society

Hong Kong pubs see slow start as football fans head to pubs to watch World Cup

Football lovers across Hong Kong returned to bars and restaurants to watch the game as the 2022 FIFA World Cup kicked off last Sunday, but some pubs didn’t see much boost in business, despite authorities relaxing opening hours earlier this month. Many venues screening the matches expected crowds, particularly for the more popular matches, including Brazil, Germany, France and England. However, Lan Kwai Fong, the city’s entertainment district, was almost quiet when the match between England and Iran was aired on Monday at 9 pm, with only a handful of patrons watching the games. Chu Ka-chun, 30, manager of The Derby Pub & Restaurants in Wan Chai, said the rapid test requirement has reduced customers' willingness to watch the game at bars and called the potential boost to business from the event “questionable”. However, Eddie Chan Ka-kin, 44, founder of Lockeroom Dining in Mong Kok, is optimistic and expects the tournament to bring up to 50% growth to his business. “Around 60% to 70% of the tables have been reserved for matches between the “traditional powerhouses,” Chan said. “It’s dull to watch the football match alone at home. Watching football matches in pubs has a completely different atmosphere,” said Jimmy Wong, a 60-year-old football enthusiast and a first-time visitor to Lan Kwai Fong to watch the tournament. Daniel Wosner, another football lover who came to Lan Kwai Fong for the tournament, said he would continue to enjoy the remaining matches there because of the excitement brought by the extended bar opening hours. This year’s FIFA World Cup tournament will run for 28 days until Dec. 18.

Culture & Leisure

Virtus Oceania Asia Games 2022: intellectually-impaired athletes in Oceania and Asia compete in their first world-class sports event

The Virtus Oceania Asia Games 2022, an international multi-sport competition held for athletes with intellectual impairments, kicked off in Brisbane last Saturday. This is the first Virtus Regional Games held for the Oceania Asia region. During the one-week Games, hundreds of athletes from Asia and Oceania come to Australia and compete in athletics, badminton, basketball, cycling, judo, rowing, sailing, swimming, table tennis, Taekwondo, Tennis and Triathlon, according to the website of the organiser, Sport Inclusion Australia. SIA advocates a fair and equal environment for the able-bodied and athletes with intellectual disabilities. “Athletes with intellectual impairment have to overcome discrimination and prejudice to train and perform as high-performance elite athletes. But they have the same hopes and dreams as everyone else,” the OA Games 2022 website’s statement said. It is the first Para Sailing International Championship in which people with intellectual impairment can compete. Currently, only three out of 28 Paralympic sports offer classification for athletes with such disabilities at the Paralympics. “All these years, I have been helping all people with disabilities, no matter if it is physical, intellectual or any other form, to engage in sailing. So I am happy that people with intellectual disability can finally shine on the world stage,” said Shona Campbell, 47, an experienced volunteer in helping disabled people to participate in sailing. Philip Evans, 67, came from New Zealand to Brisbane to support his grandson who is diagnosed with attention deficit disorder. He said sailing has benefited his grandson because there would be fewer distractions from other people. “Sailing is good for him. I’d really like to see more world-class events like this be held for people with intellectual impairment,” said Evans.

Society

Hong Kong Sevens 2022: city’s popular rugby event returns after three and a half years

The Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens kicked off on Friday afternoon at Hong Kong Stadium, the city’s first major sporting event since the outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic. With a history of almost half a century, this rugby sevens event has been postponed or cancelled five times since it was last held in 2019 due to the epidemic. After the city lifts compulsory quarantine requirements for overseas passengers in September, the world-class rugby returns. The event will run for three days and feature 45 matches with 16 teams in the group stage, including Argentina, Australia, Canada, Fiji, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, New Zealand, Samoa, South Africa, Spain, the United States, Uruguay and Hong Kong. The stadium capacity has been limited to 85% due to epidemic prevention, and approximately 34,000 spectators are expected to attend the game each day. One-day tickets for the first day’s matches have been sold out by Thursday night on Klook, one of the authorised sellers of this three-day sporting event. “As a local rugby fan, I am proud that the play can be hosted again in Hong Kong,” said Lai Man-kit, a local audience member. Franklin Paul, 39, from India, said watching live games can refresh him. “I feel a sense of freedom now that watching the Hong Kong Sevens is a means for me to relieve pressure,” he said. Fans are required to scan the QR code using the LeaveHomeSafe app to show the vaccine pass and provide proof of a negative Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) result before entering the stadium. Groups of people are limited to 12. The government permitted food and drink in the seated areas of the outdoor spectator stands, but audiences must wear masks when not eating or drinking. “It would enliven the atmosphere when we are allowed to …

Society

1,200 swimmers make waves in harbour race

Over 1,200 swimmers made waves across Victoria Harbour on Sunday morning in the annual New World Harbour Race, with competitors expecting more places next year.  Kwok Chun-hei, 18, a member of the Hong Kong team, won the first place in the men’s group, while fellow Hong Kong team member Wong Ching-lam, 21, won the women’s group in the approximately one-kilometre race. The race groups started at 7:05 am from the Golden Bauhinia Square Public Pier in Wan Chai and finished at the Avenue of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui, while the leisure groups began at 7:45 am. Participants had to present their vaccine pass and negative RAT results before entering the competition area. A queue was seen outside the Golden Bauhinia Square earlier in the morning.  The organiser limited the number of participants in leisure groups by drawing lots to “reduce large gatherings of people” during the pandemic.  Evelyn Wu, a mainland student from the University of Hong Kong, said she enjoyed the race, which was her first time swimming in Victoria Harbour. “The water was very clean. It was great to swim and enjoy the scenery at the same time,” she said.  But she said she was sorry her friend was not in the race. “ She was supposed to go with me, but she did not get drawn (in the lucky draw), so I had to come alone,” she added. Another swimmer Clement Wong also said he was looking forward to more places at the Harbour Race next year. “I have done the Harbour Race before, but I didn't expect it to be so small this year,” said Wong. He added that it was very crowded in the past when swimmers came ashore at the Quarry Bay. “This year, although the venue is huge, it was a bit …

Society

Hong Kong Masters snooker event returns after five years

The Hong Kong Masters snooker tournament has returned after a five-year hiatus partly because of the pandemic. Eight world-class players are competing in the championship, and the organisers expect to have an audience occupancy rate of 90% during the four-day event. “We set a new record in snooker history. We have already sold 90% of the tickets in the finals, and we are expecting to see 8,000 to 9,000 people at the Hong Kong Coliseum,” said Law Wing-chung, chairman of the Hong Kong Sports Control Council at a press conference yesterday. This is the first snooker event ever to be held at the Hong Kong Coliseum. Two Hong Kong players— Marco Fu Ka-chun and Ng On-yee, with the world’s top six players— Ronnie O'Sullivan, Judd Trump, Mark Selby, Neil Robertson, John Higgins, Zhao Xintong, are in the games. However, Zhao Xintong withdrew from the tournament because he tested positive for Covid-19. British player, Mark Williams will replace Zhao in the line up. “I am excited because the event is finally being held in Hong Kong again. I bought the most expensive tickets on the first day of sales, and luckily, I do not have class today,” said Chan Kin-heng, a university student who was waiting to enter the Hong Kong Coliseum at noon. The relaxation of Covid restrictions has made it possible for Hong Kong to host the snooker event again after a lapse of five year. Fans said the size of the audience this year is more than what it was in 2017. “I did not expect so many people to watch the preliminaries today. In the past, only the last day would attract big crowds. There were already people queuing up to enter the venue one hour before the opening,” said Wong-Siu-chau, a retired physical education teacher. “This …

Society

Charity football tournament raises over HK$170,000 for refugees and asylum seekers

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Ming Min AW YONG、Aruzhan ZEINULLAEdited by: Malick Gai
  • 2022-10-04

The annual charity football tournament Home and Away was held at King’s Park in Kowloon today. The event has raised over HK$170,000 this year for refugees, asylum-seekers, and human-trafficking survivors in Hong Kong. The race, organised by a non-governmental organisation, Branches of Hope, aims to help vulnerable and marginalised groups in Hong Kong, including the city’s more than 14,000 refugees and asylum seekers. Twenty teams and about 300 participants played in this year’s tournament. The winning team was MY Medicare Crusaders, from the corporate sector, while the first runner-up was the local student team, Benchwarmers FC. Alexander Pforte, Executive Director of Branches of Hope, said the tournament started as a friendly communal event but has grown to be "much more than that" . "For any non-profit organisation, it's always a challenge to make sure you keep the lights on, that you have the resources to implement the programme," Pforte said, adding that it took two to three months to plan the event. Oma, a 27-year-old hotel worker, who asked to be identified only by his first name, left Somalia nine years ago for political reasons and became a refugee in Hong Kong. He said the race has helped his physical and mental health. "I have something like this to look forward to, so I feel good," he said. Oma is one of the few refugees who has been granted a work permit. “I am lucky I can work,” he said. According to government statistics, there were 23,460 torture or non-refoulement claimants in Hong Kong at the end of June 2022. To date, less than 1% of cases have been substantiated, leaving most asylum seekers waiting for their cases to be processed, often for many years. Burkary, a 32-year-old refugee from Somalia, is an example. Burkary, who also asked to be …

People

Australian Open: Hong Kong’s Coleman Wong wins junior boys’ double, first ever in Hong Kong history

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Clarice Wu、KOO Chi Tung 顧知桐Edited by: Jayde Cheung
  • 2022-01-28

17-year-old Coleman Wong Chak-lam becomes the first Hong Kong tennis player to win the junior boys’ double in Australian Open with his American partner, Bruno Kuzuhara. Wong and Kuzuhara played against Alex Michelsen from the United States of America and Adolfo Daniel Vallejo from Paraguay. Wong and his partner brought home the champion title with two sets, scoring 6-3 and 7-6 (7-3) respectively. The match continued for 1 hour and 12 minutes. Wong and Kuzuhara got a head start by winning the first point shortly after the match started, followed by Wong’s aces which opened a 4-1 lead. The pair won the first game by 6-3. They held all the cards until Michelson and Vallejo counterattacked with three big points to take a 6-5 lead in the second game. The Hong Konger-American pair was forced to go to a tiebreak but still managed to win the match. The pair was overjoyed as Wong rushed to their coach, James Alleby, after their victory. “We can’t believe it and we just think it’s dreaming,” he said. The young tennis player expressed his gratitude for the support shown by Hong Kong citizens. “I love you guys. Hong Kong is the best. Hopefully I can keep doing well to make you guys proud!”, Wong said. Siobhán Bernadette Haughey, the first Hong Kong swimmer to win an Olympic medal has also congratulated Wong on her Instagram when he won his second round against Turkey’s Togan Tokac in Australian Open Junior Championships. Wong appreciated the support coming from the swimmer. “I feel so happy and motivated because she really helped me a lot by sending many positive things to me,” he said. Wong also encouraged young aspiring tennis players in Hong Kong to “work hard and be passionate in tennis”. The triumph marked the second milestone …

Hong Kong top cyclists eager to join next week’s Nations Cup ahead of the Olympics

  • 2021-05-06

Next week’s track cycling Nations Cup, the city’s biggest international sporting event since the outbreak of COVID-19, will be a good “warm-up match” for the Tokyo Olympics, Hong Kong cycling coach Shen Jinkang said in an online press conference today. In April, the government approved a COVID-19 safety plan from UCI, the worldwide governing body for cycling, for the event, which will be held in the Hong Kong Velodrome in Tseung Kwan O. The plan, which UCI calls a “life bubble,” includes no audience during the competition and no quarantine for the 100 athletes arriving from overseas, who are required to have a negative COVID-19 test before boarding. The Hong Kong team will send five cyclists to participate in the competition, including Sarah Lee Wai-sze and Jessica Lee Hoi-yan, who will join the Tokyo Olympics. “We are very eager to join this competition,” Mr Shen said at the conference, adding that this is the best chance for the Hong Kong team to learn about possible competitors before the Olympics, especially for Sarah Lee, who is competing for the first time in 14 months. Sarah Lee, who won Hong Kong’s first Olympic medal in cycling in 2012, will participate in sprint, keirin and team sprint in this competition. She set the goal to become the top three in individual competitions and help the team for the top eight. “In the past, there were crowds of audience in Hong Kong, and I remember their faces and cheers so this time I will know they are there for me,” she said in a recorded video at the press conference. Cyclist Jessica Lee said the “life bubble” is an advantage as it will help the team get familiar with a similar model for the Olympics. The first international athletes will arrive in Hong Kong …

Women's football in Hong Kong: still a long way to go

  • 2019-11-06

She works and studies by day, but at night, she puts on a new identity. Unlike the professional male players, as a female soccer player, Ma Chak Shun, 23, trains with her soccer team after sundown. Ms. Ma is involved with the Hong Kong women's national football team and a local club named Happy Valley Athletic Association Women. Yet, Ms.Ma is still not considered a professional player. “Males can play professional soccer, they can earn money by playing soccer. But females can't," she said. The trend of more females joined the sport in recent years is apparent. According to Legislative Council document, as of the interim review in 2018, there are 3,140 women in Hong Kong involved in various women's soccer programs held by Hong Kong Football Association, which increased by more than 70% compared with last year.  As the group is getting bigger, local female players say they still have to face diverse difficulties in their career because they are on the way seeking for the same rights and treatment same as male players. No professional soccer means no salary. Male players' team participating in Hong Kong Premier League can make money with their training expenses paid and salary monthly. There is no professional league for women's soccer in Hong Kong, so female players will not get paid. Most of them treat soccer as a hobby and have other full-time jobs.  "We can just seek it for fun, for leisure and for our dream," said Chan Tsz Ching, a student soccer player in Hong Kong Baptist University. HKBU provides funding for all University sports teams, and they also have sponsors to cover the expenses of overseas training or matches. Clubs out of school are not as lucky as school teams. Hong Kong Football Association sponsors Hong Kong team but not clubs, …