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Society

First international racketlon tournament in HK a hit with local players

Hong Kong hosted its first international racketlon tournament last weekend, with players saying they hope the sport will catch on in the city. Racketlon is a combination of four racket sports: table tennis, badminton, squash and tennis. They are played in consecutive order in a single match, with each carrying up to 21 points. Those who obtain the highest cumulative points win. “Laying groundwork through this first competition, this sport could spread across Asia,” said Steven Cheng, Chairman of the Hong Kong Racketlon Association and director of the tournament. International racketlon tournaments had been held in Thailand, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom. “Hong Kong is the best place in the world for racketlon,” said Stephanie Chung, 33, who won the women’s singles. “Within a 15 minute drive, I can probably find six to 10 places to play all four racket sports. That’s extremely rare.” Chung said that in New York City, she had to drive for an hour and still could not find a real badminton court. “I have a feeling Hong Kong has the potential to become the No.1 racketlon place in the world,” Chung added. Cheng said that the government could provide more venues for future racketlon tournaments. “This year, there are players from 17 countries, which I think helped promote Hong Kong as an international city,” said Cheng. “We hope that the government could allocate more resources to us, allow racketlon tournaments to be held yearly.” One of the difficulties promoting racketlon is that not everyone knows how to play all four sports, said Esther Ma, founder of Harvest Sky Sport Education and Management Company and the leading public relations personnel for the tournament. “Squash is becoming very popular now, and a lot of kids are doing very well in squash, but badminton is more underrepresented, …

Society

Voting for Hong Kong Sports Stars Awards starts

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: James Ezekiel Kalaw MODESTOEdited by: James Ezekiel Kalaw MODESTO
  • 2024-02-18

Reported by Zoey Zhang and Nansen Chen Yik-nam Public voting for the Hong Kong Sports Stars Awards, the city's most prestigious awards for local athletes, started Friday and lasts until March 17. Over 200 nominated athletes gathered at Olympian City on Saturday, calling out to the public for votes. A total of 118 athletes and sports teams were nominated by 54 National Sports Associations, according to the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong. Hong Kong athletes achieved impressive results on the world stage in 2023. Local athletes bagged 53 medals at the recent Asian Games in Hangzhou, including eight gold, 16 silver and 29 bronze medals, ranking 12th among all countries and regions. There has been a 20% increase in the number of nominees compared to the previous year when 96 athletes were nominated, Edgar Yang Joe-tsi, Honorary Secretary General of the federation, said at the press conference. The four categories of awards this year are for men, women, sports combination and team only sport. “We will be happy if we get it, but everyone deserves the reward,” said Joy Hwang Join, a member of the Cheerleading Federation of Hong Kong, who was nominated for the second time since 2022. “We are nervous and scared but happy to be here,” said her teammate Akira Escudero Takato. “For us, it's our second nomination. For Max, it's his third nomination, the first being back in 2004,” said Kenny Chan Ka-kin, referring to cycle-ball teammate Max Ho Wing-tai. “Last year, we ranked third in online voting. We hope to get the first place this year, to a higher level, even the second is acceptable,” said Ho. Winners are determined by votes from a judging panel made up of seven representatives from different associations, which counts for 50% of the score, as …

Society

E-commerce revives from poor sales during Spring Festival at Asia’s largest flower market

Reported by Bo Chuxuan and Wang Ludan Dounan Flower Market in Kunming, Yunnan, which covers 74 acres, is Asia's largest cut-flower market and a major supplier of flowers in China. From here, 80% of the flowers grown in China are traded and exported to over 50 countries and regions.  But this year, traders at Dounan Flower Market were unhappy that sales during Lunar New Year were worse than before the epidemic. Many are hoping that the resumption of e-trading on Feb.15 may be a turnaround. Qin Cuiyun, 54, earned 100 yuan after standing in the cold wind for six hours. Her flower baskets sold for around 20 yuan, which meant she only made two to three yuan on each one. “Flowers always sell better during LunarNew Year, but the business this year is worse than before,” said Qin. “After the pandemic, more people came, but fewer people purchased. People are spending less nowadays because of  the financial situation and the rise of e-commerce, ”she added. Zhang Junzheng, 48, the largest tulip and lily retailer in Dounan, said the sales during the Lunar New Year holiday this year have been much worse than before the epidemic, and he had a loss this year. “It's hard to sell flowers this year even though they are cheap because there are more retailers but fewer customers this year,” said Zhang. Zhang has been working in flower retail in Dounan since 2000 and has been growing tulips for more than 10 years. Faced with competition from e-commerce, Zhang opened an online shop but the prices there are less competitive. “The online platform allows poor quality tulip varieties to sell well through vigorous low-price promotions, which makes it more difficult for me to sell high-quality products”, he said. Fu Wuyin, 63, has been a vendor at Dounan …

Society

AI Photography blurs the Boundaries of Creativity

  • By: KONG Tsz YuenEdited by: charlottelam
  • 2024-02-17

The Sony World Photography Awards made waves in March when they unveiled "Pseudomnesia: The Electrician," the winner of the creative open category. However, German artist Boris Eldagsen, who created this thought-provoking piece, gained notoriety for not accepting the prize because his work was created by artificial intelligence. Eldgsen explained on his website that he wanted award organizers to be more aware of the difference between AI-generated images and photography and asked them to create separate competitions for AI-generated work. The Oxford English Dictionary defines photography as the process, practice, or art of taking photographs, the business of producing and printing photographs.  As AI algorithms become increasingly adept at generating realistic and high-quality images, they challenge the traditional notion of photography as a human-driven process. Never Chan, 23, a wedding photographer, said the fairness of photography competitions depends on the rules. For example, the rules may indicate that only color correction is permitted, while post-processing is off-limits. She enhances her photographs, for example, by removing unwanted objects from the background. However, she draws a clear line between AI's role in post-processing and its involvement in the actual act of photography.  "I'll ask where my clients met and assist them in taking photos there. But if AI can alter the background of a client's photos, they would lose the realism of the shot and the memorable moment of capturing it,” said Chan. In a statement provided to The Young Reporter, Ivan Tsoi, the spokesperson of the Hong Kong Photo Contest, said the contest commits to the principles of Documentary Photography. That is seeing the world as perceived through the photographer's lens rather than through post-production images produced by AI. Tsoi said they go through a rigorous evaluation process for the shortlisted works. To ensure compliance with the competition's rules, each photograph is …

Society

Annual Lunar New Year Fireworks lights up Victoria Harbour again

Reported by Haicen Yang & Rain Zhao Festive fireworks display returned to Victoria Harbour last night for the first time in five years following cancellations because of  social unrest and the COVID-19 pandemic.  More than 338,000 spectators, including tourists from mainland China and overseas lined both sides of the harbor to enjoy the festivity. The display was divided into eight scenes on the theme of "Prosperity in the Year of the Dragon".                                      

Society

Sales at Lunar New Year Fairs fail to match pre-pandemic level

By Bo Chuxuan and Elaine LAI Hong Kong’s biggest Lunar New Year's Fair at Victoria Park is selling hot food and dry goods again after four years of restrictions, but some vendors said sales are not as good as they were before the pandemic. The fairs launched on Sunday at 15 locations across the city, such as Kwai Chung and Kwun Tong, are surrounded by crowds. Candice Li Man-shuen, a vendor selling dog accessories who joined the fair several years before the pandemic, said the atmosphere was less lively than she had expected. “People are here today mainly because it is Sunday and there are other nearby events, but they didn’t come here intentionally,” Li added. Wong Kin-fan, a vendor from the mochi stall who has had a stall at the fair for several years, had sold half of her mochi by the afternoon of the first day. That brought her roughly HK$10,000 in sales revenue by the afternoon of the first day.   “Sales aren’t what they were before 2020,” Wong said. “However, the rental cost of the stall is correspondingly low. My boss decided to return to this fair again because it is cheaper.” Shirley Lau, 51, a local retailer visiting the fair every year, said there were fewer fast food stalls than before COVID-19. According to the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, the size of the fast food stalls in 2019 was 56.48 square metres, compared to 40 square metres this year at Victoria Park. Liu Wing-ting, currently working in the hospitality industry, said she felt the variety of goods and food at this fair was less compared to last time when there were fast food stalls. Liu has visited Lunar New Year fairs many times in other districts, but it’s her first time at Victoria Park. She …

People

Diverse Sailors Make Splashes at Hong Kong Race Week

Reported by Haicen YANG and Fan XIA The 2024 Hong Kong Race Week drew to a close on Sunday, ending six days of sailing  between local and international athletes, including competitors from mainland China as young as 7 years old. Hong Kong Race Week, the city’s premier international regatta for dinghies and invited classes,  was suspended for three years since 2019 and resumed for the first time last year.  The scale of this year's event continues to grow from last year. According to the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, this year’s race attracted over 270 sailors from 10 countries and regions, compared with 236 participants last year.  Ten classes including 29er, ILCA 4, ILGA 6, Optimist Fleet competed in five race areas including Repulse Bay, Deep Water Bay, Stanley, Tai Tam and Lo Chau.  Singaporean sailor Isaac Goh, who clinched the silver medal in the Boys ILCA 4 Single Handed event at the Asian Games, raced against Hong Kong sailors Stephanie Norton and Nancy Highfield in ILCA 6 for the first time. “Compared with the first time I competed in Hong Kong I was more at ease,” said Goh. “I do have confidence, and the goal I set for myself is to maintain the position I am in now. ” Goh ranked second in this Class, only after Stephanie Norton, the silver medal winner at the Asian Games of ILCA 6. “For me, this (event) was more like training,” said Norton. “But I do like to win, and the Singapore team is really strong.”   Hong Kong Race Week this year incorporates the second 2024 29er Asian Championship as well. Japanese players, Yuto Tsutsumi and Taishi Goto, who were the champion 29er sailors in Japan and ranked third in the 29er Class, were the only national team leading the board besides …

People

Lionel Messi No-Show angers Hong Kong

  • By: Juncong SHUAIEdited by: Kin Hou POON
  • 2024-02-05

Lionel Messi's much-anticipated appearance at Hong Kong Stadium ended up in disappointment when the Argentinian sat out Inter Miami’s 4-1 victory over a Hong Kong XI on Sunday because of a hamstring injury.  Two minutes before kick off at 4:10 pm, Inter Miami's announced the list of players, which did not include Lionel Messi was not included.  Spectators booed and chanted "refund" when Messi had not warmed up at around the 60-minute mark.  The organizer of the game, Tatler XFest Hong Kong, said in a statement today that they “did not have any information about the non–participation of Messi prior to kickoff”. A Hong Kong government spokesman said they too, like the fans, were “extremely disappointed about the organizer’s arrangement”. The post implied this may lead to a reduction in the amount of funding, including a matching grant of 15 million and a grant for the venue of 1 million by The Major Sports Events Committee, as a result of Messi not playing the match.  According to Yeung Yun-hung, the Secretary of Culture, the organizer confirmed that Messi will play at least 45 minutes in the game.  “The authorities hoped to take remedial measures, including asking Messi to give a personal account or accepting the trophy on behalf of the team after the game, which ultimately did not happen,” said Yeung. Messi, the World Cup and eight time Ballon d'Or winner, just finished another friendly game in Saudi Arabia, but played for only 7 minutes.  Messi’s fans, some of them in the Argentina blue and white shirt and others in the pink Inter Miami top, waited outside the team hotel at Ocean Park, hoping to catch a glimpse of this 36 - year - old football star.  Before the match in Hong Kong, the coach of Inter Miami said Messi …

Society

Hong Kong’s first diagonal crossing starts trial run in Sha Tin

The city’s first diagonal crossing opened to the public on Wednesday, allowing pedestrians to save time crossing a junction between Sha Kok Street and Yat Tai Street in Sha Tin. The city’s Transport Department said it aims to enhance pedestrian mobility and efficiency with more direct routes, potentially eliminating dangerous detours and reducing accidents. The Transport Department also said a diagonal crossing at Carnarvon Road and Granville Road in Tsim Sha Tsui is expected to be completed in mid-2024. “It has been the government’s goal in recent years to build Hong Kong into an 'accessible city' to enhance the overall accessibility of Hong Kong, and to create a pedestrian-friendly environment,” wrote Secretary for Transport and Logistics Lam Sai-hung in his blog. Stanley Chan, an instructor at the nearby Immaculate Heart of Mary College, said that the crossing could benefit those with limited mobility. “The lines give a sense of direction, and can guide people who cannot walk without assistance, such as the elderly and wheelchair-bound individuals,” said Chan.  “In general, it also helps save time for everyone crossing,” he said. Bobby Leung, a photographer, travelled to Sha Tin to take pictures of the crossing on Thursday said that it is reminiscent of Tokyo’s famous Shibuya Crossing, which is considered the world’s busiest crosswalk, with roughly 2,500 individuals crossing each time. “It's like a mini version of it,” he said. “After all, this is just the start. Maybe we will see a much larger one in the future.”  The Transport Department said that it will continue monitoring the usage of the two junctions while taking in feedback from pedestrians and motorists to assess the effectiveness of the diagonal crossing.  

Culture & Leisure

Board games help build post-pandemic friendships

Secret Hitler, Arkham Horror, Terraforming Mars, Tumbling Monkeys—just some of the board games in the bright paper boxes at  808 Games. In one corner of the café, four drunk patrons squabbled over tokens the size of their fingernails. In another corner, three women were engrossed in their first session of ROOT, a strategy game about animals trying to rule the forest. The players are strangers to each other, but they have played together online every week for a month. A player who goes by Ms X_X on the social media platform X, held a paper pamphlet twice the size of her hand while she mulled over the colourful tokens. Her two fellow players pored over the rules book like a treasure map. Chris Lo, the owner of 808 Games and a veteran of the board game industry for over 11 years, approached them for assistance. “Has my turn ended?”  X_X asked. “Not yet. You still have to do a night action,” Lo replied. This is a typical afternoon at 808 Games. a board game café in Mong Kok which rents out games to its customers for an hourly fee. It has an assortment of games ranging from UNO to Cthulhu: Death May Die, a lengthy campaign board game which includes a 60cm plastic statue of Cthulhu, a mythical creature in the Lovecraft horror. The cluttered café has been in operation since 2010, making it the oldest board game café in Hong Kong. Since then, other cafés such as Wheat and Wood, a casual café centered around socializing, or Jolly Thinkers, which has its own Board Game educator programme, have opened in Hong Kong There are now more than ten board game cafés in the city. Since 2010, 808 Games has gone through two owners, one renovation and a pandemic. Lo, …