‘Keeping pools closed will cost HK elite swimmers’

A group of swimming coaches on Friday urged the authorities to reopen pools as soon as possible, saying the prolonged closures may affect the grooming of future elite swimmers.

Speaking at a press conference, Ng Yuk-kong, a committee member of the Hong Kong China Swimming Association, said his swimming club has lost around 200, or 40 percent, of its swimmers since the pandemic began.

John Yiu, a swimming coach at an international school, said some of his students have moved to Singapore or the United States temporarily to continue with their training.

“We are not just losing the elite level [swimmers]. The concerning thing is we are losing the foundation, which is the biggest part of our future long-term athlete development, because who wants to wait for two years not knowing when we can swim again?” he asked.

Yiu said pools have been forced to close for around 400 days since early 2020, and it’s now time to reopen them again.

Lee Yuet-man, chairman of the Hong Kong Recreation and Sports Professionals General Union, said pools are disinfected with chlorine and are safe, and there’s no reason why they can’t open along with sports facilities, like basketball courts.

He said the government can first open the pools to schools or swimming clubs as a risk-control measure.

Lee said should there be a certain number of Covid cases, the administration could close the affected pools for disinfection while allowing other pools to stay open, in order to strike a balance between curbing virus transmission and taking into account people’s need to use the facilities.