Hong Kong swimming body to allow all who qualify to join championships, lawmaker says after dispute

2 days ago 5
Kenneth Fok

Hong Kong’s swimming governing body will change competition qualification rules to allow all who record qualifying times to participate in championships, sports sector lawmaker Kenneth Fok has said, after a nine-year-old swimmer was reportedly barred from taking part in a competition.

Fok, who is also vice president of the Sports Federation & Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China (SF&OC), told reporters on Tuesday that competition selection mechanisms existed to allow athletes to showcase their talents, local media reported.

 Kenneth Fok, via Facebook.Kenneth Fok. File photo: Kenneth Fok, via Facebook.

Fok said the Hong Kong China Swimming Association had a duty to offer opportunities to athletes and should not supress their talents.

According to Fok, the chairman of the association had agreed during a meeting to change competition qualification rules. The meeting was attended by Fok, the chairman, and Edgar Yang, a representative from the SF&OC.

HKFP has reached out to the swimming governning body for a response.

The remarks came after local media reported that a nine-year-old swimmer had been denied entry to participate in Hong Kong’s 2024 open championships despite recording a qualifying time because of the ranking of his swimming club.

 Facebook of Alex Fong.Swimmer Alex Fong, who represented Hong Kong at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, founded a swimming club in 2018. File photo: Facebook of Alex Fong.

The club, RippleFly Swim, was founded by former Olympic swimmer and actor Alex Fong.

In a statement issued last Friday, the sports association said that RippleFly Swim was a “competition member” – the lowest of three member rankings – and thus not qualified to participate in championships.

If competition members were allowed to participate in championships, it would “affect the scoring mechanisms of members,” the association added.

“Please avoid causing any disturbance to young swimmers or damaging the reputation of the association due to negative media coverage,” the statement said.

‘Indifferent’

Following the statement, Fong slammed the association on Sunday over the dispute, calling the sports governing body “indifferent” towards young and promising athletes.

Victoria Park Swimming PoolVictoria Park Swimming Pool. File photo: GovHK.

“The statement did not respond to the main issues… It was only concerned with maintaining the system of the governing body and disregarded the interests of athletes. It was indifferent towards the young and promising swimmers from its affiliated clubs,” Fong wrote in Chinese.

“I believe that any swimmer who obtains a qualifying time should be able to participate in the championships, not to mention swimmers who reach a qualifying time in a competition hosted by the swimming association,” Fong added.

Responding to the dispute, the SF&OC’s Yang said on Tuesday when he met the press that he would review the swimming association’s systems after the Paris Olympics, which begin on July 26.

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