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Promoting sports in the community essential to boost residents’ health

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Promoting sports in the community essential to boost residents’ health

By Martin Kwok and Kacee Ting Wong

Five years ago, Hong Kong’s athletes won 46 medals at the Jakarta Palembang Asian Games. At the recently concluded Hangzhou Asian Games, Hong Kong athletes scaled new heights by winning 53 medals. Not only has their excellent performance received praise, but it has also borne testimony to the success of Hong Kong’s elite sports policy.

The three main objectives of the sports policy of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government are to promote sports in the community; support elite sports; and promote Hong Kong as a center for international sports events.

We will now examine how successfully these objectives have been implemented and what benefits they have brought about.

The elite sports policy, despite all the controversy over its huge price tag, has been successfully implemented in the past few years. It has also brought a lot of benefits to the community.

First, the policy has played an indispensable role in nurturing the growth of elite athletes in the city. What elite athletes need is adequate government funding. As then-chief executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor pointed out in her 2021 Policy Address, the success of Hong Kong’s athletes has not come about by chance. In addition to their own efforts and the support of different sectors, the government’s policy measures and allocation of resources are also indispensable.

Second, success breeds success. The distinguished performance of Hong Kong athletes at the Hangzhou Asian Games will boost the morale of aspiring athletes and young people in the city.

Third, the elite sports policy has also brought about benefits in terms of social cohesion. Of great significance is the strong unifying force unleashed by these elite athletes, whose strong performances in competitions have helped to foster collective pride within Hong Kong society, which in turn is conducive to mending social fissures.

The growing sense of belonging among Hong Kong people has created a favorable environment for social reconciliation in the post-insurrection period.

Hong Kong’s sports team deserves special credit for arousing national consciousness among fans. In addition to the success of the men’s rugby team, Hong Kong’s footballers’ extraordinary performance is also worthy of praise. Though our football team was defeated by Japan in the semi-final, it emerged as an ad hoc symbol of unity in the city. The unforgettable match between Hong Kong’s football team and Iran’s team has become part of our collective memory.

Much more needs to be done if we want to turn our football team into a long-lasting promoter of unity. Psychologists have suggested that our love of football has much to do with our need for social connection and tribalism. People naturally enjoy being part of a group and watching their favorite team play. Such experiences provide them with a sense of belonging and community.

If local football clubs are committed to developing young talent, Hong Kong will create a good incubating environment to nurture football stars. The domestic football league is also in urgent need of funding.

Let us turn to the third objective.The impressive performance of Hong Kong’s elite athletes at Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics and Hangzhou Asian Games 2023 has drawn considerable attention to the city’s competitive edge in elite sports. For example, the excellent performance of our men’s rugby team in Hangzhou can add further publicity to the Hong Kong Sevens. These international sports events will bring plenty of economic benefits to Hong Kong.

It is also of note that the 15th National Games will be co-hosted by Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao in 2025. It has been proposed that as many as five mass participation events should be held in Hong Kong, along with competitions for football, fencing, handball, rugby sevens, cycling, golf, sailing and beach volleyball.

The co-hosting arrangement should further facilitate Hong Kong’s integration into the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. As far as the second and third objectives are concerned, Hong Kong has implemented successful policies to meet public expectations. But do we have effective policies to promote sports in the community)? Our answer is mixed.

The compelling link between the severity of some chronic diseases and the unwillingness of patients to perform regular exercise has brought the importance of the first objective into sharp focus. To cite an example, recent studies suggest that one in every three Australian adults is suffering from fatty liver. In addition to a high alcohol intake and diabetes mellitus, their modern sedentary lifestyles can cause fatty tissues to build up inside the liver. The best way to avoid fatty liver is to maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly.

Exercising regularly reportedly can also help long-COVID patients regain their health.

Most Hong Kong residents get too little exercise and this is a major cause of the increasing number of health problems in the community. As the Hong Kong, China Rowing Association has correctly pointed out, the overwhelming problem with government-organized sports is that it can never expand participation beyond a relatively low level.

Nor can the government rely on schools and universities to promote sports in the community. Nevertheless, educational institutions have laid a good foundation for young athletes to pursue their sports calling after graduation. They have also helped popularize some sports.

The recreational nature of sports has encouraged us to exercise more regularly. But some sports are not popular in Hong Kong. For example, aspiring ice hockey players may not be able to pursue their calling because their favorite game is not actively supported by the government. Though a few local students play ice hockey during their leisure time, they will usually cease playing after graduation because of the lack of s facilities in their neighborhood. It seems that a strong ice hockey club would be in a better position to promote ice hockey in the city.

Like sports clubs in Denmark, local sports clubs can play a more active role in helping the government promote sports in the community. Finally, we should accord our utmost respect to those busy family doctors who are simultaneously taking on the role of fitness instructors in their clinics. Perhaps medical practitioners in district health centers can play a more active role in encouraging their patients to do more exercise. Prevention is always better than cure.

Martin Kwok ALMI ALHC ACS, is the founder of Oxford Sports Development, and Sports Promotion Director of Chinese Dream Think Tank.

Kacee Ting Wong is a barrister, part-time researcher of Shenzhen University Hong Kong and Macao Basic Law Research Center, chairman of Chinese Dream Think Tank.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

Martin Kwok & Kacee Ting:Promoting sports in the community essential to boost residents’ health (China Daily HK Edition, 10 Nov 2023)

https://www.chinadailyhk.com/article/360675#Promoting-sports-in-the-community-essential-to-boost-residents’-health

This article is reproduced by Kwun Media with the consent of China Daily.

中國夢智庫| 香港特區的體育政策 

五年前,香港特區運動員在雅加達亞運會奪得46枚獎牌,在杭州亞運會上再創佳績,又奪得56枚獎牌。健兒們的卓越表現不僅使全港市民都引以為傲,也是香港特區精英體育政策的成功展現。政府的體育發展三大政策目標包括: (1)普及化;(2) 精英化;與(3) 盛事化(註1)。在接下來的討論中,筆者嘗試談談這3個目標的實施情況。

儘管維持精英體育政策因費用頗高而存在一些爭議,但在過去幾年間政府在這項政策實施過程中也取得了成功,為社區整體帶來許多相關的進步。首先,精英運動員需要的是政府的大力支持。正如時任行政長官林鄭月娥女士在2021年施政報告中指出,運動員的成功並非偶然,除了他們自身的努力與各方的支持外,政府的政策導向與資源投入也是不可或缺(註2)。

成者育成。運動員在杭州的出色表現將鼓舞更多有夢想的運動員,使有抱負的年輕人擁抱自強不息的勇氣。第三,從社會凝聚力的角度來說,這些精英運動員的成績向社會釋放出有重要意義的團結力量。大家對健兒們的表現感到自豪,榮譽感成為凝聚社會不同光譜人士的主旋律。對香港特區的歸屬感也日益增長,為社會未來的發展與共融創造了有利的條件。

比賽期間,國家隊與港隊的粉絲同聲為參賽運動員們喝彩,熱烈的氣氛中體現了中華民族團結意識,值得大家表揚。除了男子欖球港隊的驕人成績,港足男隊在杭州歷史性躋身四強,他們與伊朗隊的比賽更是表現非凡令人難忘,成為大家的集體記憶。運動健兒們的整體表現成為了香港特區團結的象徵。

足球運動可以成為特區團結全社會的一個重要紐帶。心理學家認為,大眾對足球的熱愛與眾人對社會各界互相聯繫和團體凝聚力有著莫大的關係。足球愛好者們不分你我,團隊合作為運動健兒們助喊納威,這種合作經歷能增加各人歸屬感與社會凝聚力(註3)。在足球未來發展方面,如果內地與本港足球俱樂部可爭取到更多資源,致力培養青年人才,兩地可攜手創造一個良好的孵化環境,培育頂級足球明星。

至於政府體育發展的第三個政策目標:盛事化,精英運動員在2021年東京奧運會與杭州亞運會上的出色表現,顯示本港具備舉辦國際體育賽事的極大潛力。本港男子欖球在杭州的出色表現,無疑能為即將在香港特區舉行的「國際七人欖球賽」產生良好的宣傳效應。在港舉辦的國際賽事,不但證明本港在精英體育領域有著強大競爭優勢,也可為香港特區帶來可觀的經濟效益。

值得大家注意,粵、港、澳三地將於2025年共同舉辦「第十五屆全國運動會」。以下多項大型比賽活動將有機會在本港舉行:如乒乓球、足球、擊劍、手球、七人欖球、自行車、高爾夫、帆船與沙灘排球等比賽(註4)。從政治角度來看,協辦賽事安排可進一步促進香港特區經濟發展融入大灣區。就第二與第三個體育發展政策目標整體而言,香港政府已成功實施相關政策,以滿足公眾的期望。但是,本港是否有有效的政策來促進社區體育發展(第一個體育發展目標:普及化)?筆者找到好壞參半的答案。

一些嚴重慢性病轉危進程與患者沒有養成良好身體鍛煉之間存在因果關係,這使體育發展普及化目標倍受關注。舉例說明,最近一個研究表明,每三個澳洲成年人中就有一個患有脂肪肝。除了攝入大量酒精與糖尿病病患外,現代人長時間的室內工作模式也是導致脂肪肝。避免脂肪肝的最佳方法是保持健康的體重並定期鍛煉身體(註5)。定期鍛煉身體還可以幫助COVID長期患者重獲健康(註6)。

缺乏定期運動,這是社區健康發展與大多數市民健康問題日益嚴重的一個主要成因。正如「中國香港賽艇協會」早前正確指出,一個壓倒性的問題是政府主辦的運動活動往往都末能普及化,社會參與度不高(註7),話雖如此,香港特區各大教育機構已為年輕運動員畢業後繼續追求體育發展與普及各項運動工作上作出了很多努力。因此,政府不能只依賴在中小學與大學推廣社區體育教育。希望香港特區政府在這方面有更豐富的計劃。

多作運動具備娛樂性,這個特徵能吸引大家堅持不斷鍛煉身體保持健康。但有些運動在香港特區並不受到大眾的喜愛。舉例說明,長期以來冰球運動沒有得到政府的重視與積極推廣,又由於社區缺乏配套體育設施,大多數冰球運動員在畢業後就放棄冰球運動。香港特區似乎缺少了一個健全的冰球俱樂部,因此在港推廣冰球運動舉步維艱。

在丹麥的體育俱樂部就不一樣,當地的體育俱樂部在促進社區體育方面發揮著積極的作用。在香港特區,社區家庭醫生們在診所里一直扮演著雙重角色,問診者與健身教練,苦口婆心地勸諭病患者多做運動,大家應向這些忙忙碌碌的社區家庭醫生們致以崇高的敬意。社區衛生中心的醫生們也不時鼓勵患者多作運動,他(她)們在這方面發揮了積極的作用。

預防永遠勝於治療。

事實與資料來源已核查

註 1: 文化體育及旅遊局「體育政策」09.09.2022 available at: https://www.cstb.gov.hk/tc/policies/sports-and-recreation/sports-policy.html

註 2: 行政長官2021年施政報告「齊心同行 開創未來」06.10.2021 第39頁, 第114段 available at: https://www.policyaddress.gov.hk/2021/chi/pdf/PA2021.pdf

註 3: Opinion「The psychology behind why we love watching football」Breakingthelines.com 09.05.2023 available at: https://breakingthelines.com/opinion/the-psychology-behind-why-we-love-watching-football/#:~:text=People%20naturally%20enjoy%20being%20part,the%20outcome%20of%20the%20game.

註 4: Wynna Wong「Hong Kong’s Kai Tak Sports Park has goal of hiring 2,000 workers by 2025 with city set to co-host National Games」SCMP 10.10.2023 available at: https://amp.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/society/article/3237479/hong-kongs-kai-tak-sports-park-has-goal-hiring-2000-workers-2025-city-set-co-host-national-games

註 5: Health direct「Fatty liver」available at: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/fatty-liver

註 6: Post-COVID Clinic, Oxford「The Long COVID」London: Green Tree 2022 Chapter 6

註 7: Hong Kong, China Rowing Association「The Report of the Sports Policy Review Team 2002」LC Paper No. CB(2)2526/01-02(02) available at: https://www.legco.gov.hk/yr01-02/english/panels/ha/papers/ha0709cb2-2526-2e-scan.pdf

文:郭忠平
牛津體育發展公司創辦人
「中國夢智庫」體育運動推廣事務總監
全港各區工商聯青年企業家聯合會-會董
香港新蒲崗(黃大仙)工商業聯會-會董

文:丁煌
深圳大學基本法研究中心兼職研究員
經民聯港島支部主席,「中國夢智庫」主席
香港薈萃協會法律顧問,城市智庫成員
國際公益法律服務協會顧問委員會成員
全國港澳研究會會員

《中國夢智庫》是一間扎根特區的非牟利團體;與心存熱誠的資深義工、專家與職業專業人士們合作,攜手「說好中國故事」。

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