The Arnold Classic Asia Multi-Sport Festival opens for its premiere two-day run tomorrow. This festival is a celebration of sports, fitness and health, bringing professionals, amateurs and enthusiasts together in an atmosphere of competition, learning and sharing. It is a festival for the whole family to participate in. I am very pleased to note that the event will provide support to Operation Breakthrough, which is formed by a group of local volunteers with the shared vision to provide sporting and related activities, as well as positive interaction with role models, to young people at risk.
Established in the United States 40 years ago, the festival has an international following on six continents including North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Australia and now Asia, with Hong Kong as the home base. I must thank the Governor for choosing our city of seven million people to reach out to 4.4 billion people in Asia. Over 500, 000 people around the world have attended an Arnold Classic this year, with over 40, 000 athletes competing in some 55 sports and related events.
The event in Hong Kong is indeed the final piece of a quest to globalise the Arnold Sports Festivals. And for hosting such a major and popular event, there is no place better than Hong Kong, Asia’s world city and a champion of globalisation. Arnold chooses Hong Kong to be the permanent Asian home of the festival as he notes that Hong Kong is more than an international business and financial centre in the heart of Asia. Hong Kong enjoys broad diversity in sport as well, and in Arnold’s words, which I quote, “making it the ideal city to unite the Asian sports community at one event”, unquote. I am sure Arnold will share with us more at this luncheon later.
The Arnold Classic Asia Multi-Sport Festival in Hong Kong will see global and local sports stars coming together over one weekend. The debut festival will feature unique, non-stop sports competitions and interactive workshops covering over 20 sports. From mind sports such as chess and Rubik’s Cube, to table tennis, skip rope, rugby, arm-wrestling, weight lifting, cycling, martial arts like tai chi and kung fu, and more.
The timing of this event is impeccable. Sports development is a priority of the Hong Kong SAR Government. Hong Kong has nurtured a good league of elite players. Right now about 40 of them are competing in Rio de Janeiro for the Olympics, which will conclude this weekend. Regardless of the results, our athletes inspire young and old alike and make us proud.
Development of sports facilities is crucial to achieving the target of “sport for all”. In recent years, the Government has built a world-class Velodrome and completed the redevelopment of the Hong Kong Sports Institute. We are now pushing ahead with the Kai Tak Sports Park, a key investment of the Government in sports infrastructure, and pre-construction work is in full swing. On completion, the Park will be the largest of its kind in the city, and will offer a great variety of multi-purpose facilities across an expansive 28 hectares. It will feature a 50,000-seat stadium, together with a public sports ground, an indoor sports centre, a health and wellness centre and a landscaped park. The area will include jogging and cycling tracks, outdoor sports courts and a fitness area. It might even be a great venue for a future Arnold Classic.
We are also hosting major international sports events. The Hong Kong Rugby Sevens, the Hong Kong Marathon, the Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Races and the lately added Hong Kong Cyclothon all draw big crowds to Hong Kong. Golf and tennis opens, badminton, squash, volleyball, track cycling and dance sport also keep Hong Kong on the global circuit. And now we can add the Arnold Classic to the mix.
Chief Secretary Carrie Lam made these remarks at the Arnold Business Lunch on August 19.