Month: April 2023 (Page 2 of 2)

Hong Kong Government support suspension of ice hockey association over national anthem row

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government announced that they will be supporting the decision to ban the Hong Kong Ice Hockey Association (HKIHA) after a blunder with the national anthem in February.

They released a statement backing the Sports Federation & Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China (SF&OC) request for the HKIHA to produce an explanation behind the mistake and how they will improve upon it.

The incident happened before Hong Kong’s match against Iran at the  International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship Group III in Bosnia and Herzegovina when an anti-Government song linked to protests in Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, in 2019 were played instead of the Hong Kong anthem.

“In the event that suspension of the HKIHA’s membership is affirmed by the SF&OC through the passage of a special resolution, the HKSAR Government will, under the premise of not affecting the athletes, consider reducing the subvention to the HKIHA correspondingly as punishment,” the statement said, according to China Daily.

“The national anthem is a symbol and sign of the country and should be respected on all occasions. 

“The HKSAR Government will impose severe sanctions for non-compliance without exception.”

Detailed instructions on flag and anthem ceremonies were issued in November last year after a similar incident occurred at a rugby sevens match in Incheon in South Korea.

Despite the row, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Culture, Sports and Tourism Kevin Yeung Yun-Hung promised that he will advocate for funding to continue so that athletes can participate in international competitions and receive funding.

“When dealing with this incident, we see that the managing leaders of the ice hockey association did not give appropriate attention to the handling of the national anthem,” Yeung told public broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong.

“This also reflects some issues with its internal management. 

“Therefore, we support the measures taken by the SF&OC to start a proceeding that may lead to the temporary suspension of the membership of the ice hockey association.”

Honorary chairman of the HKIHA is Kenneth Fok, vice-president of the SF&OC, which is led by his father Timothy, who is also a member of the International Olympic Committee.

Kenneth Fok is also Legislative Councillor for the Sports, Performing Arts, Culture and Publication Functional Constituency.

Fok was appointed as honorary chairman of the HKIHA after leading the Hong Kong delegation as team leader to the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne.

He has supported the decision of the SF&OC to recommend the suspension of the HKIHA, claiming it will highlight the corporate governance issues within the association.

Yun-Hung also talked about the potential cuts in funding and what extent it may reach.

“We will not discuss in detail the spending of all the budget of the Ice Hockey Association openly,” he said.

“If we have to cut some of the budgets at the end, which we do not really want to happen.

“We will ensure that the athletes will be able to continue to participate in international competitions and also their training will not be affected.”

The ice hockey association mentioned that budget cuts will have repercussions on development and competing.

They also said that the leaders of the organisation are volunteers and unpaid.

Hong Kong top sports federation threatens to suspend ice hockey body over anthem blunder

Hong Kong hockey players react to a protest song being A The protest song Glory to Hong Kong was heard instead of China’s Marches of the People during an ice hockey match between Hong Kong and Iran on February 28.

By Hillary Leung – Hong Kong Free Press

The top sports federation representing Hong Kong at the Olympics has warned that it could suspend the Hong Kong Ice Hockey Association (HKIHA) after a blunder that saw a pro-democracy protest song played instead of China’s national anthem at a recent international match.

In a statement published on Tuesday, the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China (SF&OC) said the association had one month to provide a “full written explanation” about its “non-compliance… to handle the national anthem in a dignified manner.”

Otherwise, the federation would suspend the HKIHA’s membership, a decision it added was supported by the Hong Kong government.

The move comes over a month following the anthem mishap, in which Glory to Hong Kong – a song composed during the protests in 2019 – was played at a February ice hockey match in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

It was at least the fifth such incident involving the wrong song being played at an international sporting event in recent months. Hong Kong authorities have referred to the tune being “closely associated with violent protests and the independence movement in 2019.” Though the protests attracted a handful of pro-independence activists, it was not one of the movement’s demands.

When Glory to Hong Kong was played after the match in Sarajevo, athletes made the “time-out” gesture as per new guidelines on how to respond if the incorrect song was heard. The correct song, Chinese anthem March of the Volunteers, was played soon after.

Leadership ‘failings’

In the Tuesday statement, SF&OC repeated earlier criticism that the HKIHA had been uncommunicative and failed to act with “the appropriate due diligence.”

The federation said it had made “repeated attempts” to meet with HKIHA’s leadership to discuss the incident, but that such a meeting could only be arranged after more than three weeks.

“Such unwillingness and evasiveness reflect the failings of HKIHA’s leadership to communicate and cooperate with SF&OC, as well as its placing insufficient importance to the display of the national anthem and to uphold the dignity of the country,” the SF&OC wrote.

In addition to a report on the association’s “non-compliance,” it will also have to submit “a plan of improvement on corporate governance.”

HKIHA said in a statement a day after the incident that it had “strictly observed” SF&OC guidelines with regards to the anthem, having issued the “official version” to the event organiser, the Ice Hockey Association of Bosnia & Herzegovina.

The European association expressed its “deepest apology” over the error, calling the mishap an “honest human mistake” made by a technician playing the anthems.

Anthem saga

The national anthem saga began last November when the song associated with the 2019 extradition bill protests was heard at South Korea’s Rugby Sevens instead of the national anthem. Asia Rugby President Qais Abdulla Al Dhalai later flew into the city to apologize as the government demanded an investigation. Organizers had reportedly downloaded the top song listed when when searching online for the “Hong Kong national anthem.”

The government said it had asked a search engine to pin the correct information about the national anthem at the top of their search results. The Innovation, Technology and industry Bureau added that it was “enhancing” government webpages including adjusting keywords and adding text titles to boost their search ranking.

The authorities have refused to say if the Glory to Hong Kong is illegal, though it is banned in schools and police have intervened when it is played in public.

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