Gay Games HK to rely more on private venues

Organisers of the Gay Games say they are looking at using more private venues across Hong Kong because “challenges” remain in booking government premises.

The Games were originally planned to take place in November 2022, but organisers decided to postpone the events for a year citing the Covid-19 pandemic and uncertainty regarding travel restrictions.

A co-chair of the Games, Lisa Lam, told RTHK on Wednesday that while they have had a positive response from universities and private sports clubs regarding venue bookings, it is a different story with government-run places.

“We are continuing having ongoing discussions with [officials] about venues. But at the same time we realise that there are still challenges in terms of the existing venue booking policies,” she said, referring to a rule that charitable organisations can only book facilities under the Leisure and Cultural Services Department up to six months in advance.

“So we are going to be shifting our focus or strategy towards more private venues. We are working with universities, schools or clubs, more of those private enterprises.”

Lam said she felt that the government’s stance on venue booking hasn’t changed despite the matter being brought up in Legco a few months ago.

“We have 36 sports. Some of the sports don’t even have a national sports association in Hong Kong. It becomes a bit challenging to approach individual associations to book the venues,” she said.

“For them to book the venue, in their name, for an event that is not theirs, obviously there are some challenges right? I fully understand why there are some hesitations.”

Lam said she hopes the government will make an exception and allow the associations to book facilities under their name a year in advance.

Asked about the matter, a Home Affairs Bureau spokesman pointed RTHK to a written reply bureau chief Caspar Tsui gave to legislators in August.

“In accordance with LCSD’s current practice, the Gay Games Hong Kong may, as a locally registered organisation, reserve non-peak slots and peak slots of sports facilities up to six months and three months in advance respectively,” Tsui had said.

He added that when the department received applications from the organisers or the relevant associations, it would process them in accordance with current procedures.