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"M" mark system to support major sports events

Major sports events staged in Hong Kong which meet criteria set by the Major Sports Events Committee of the Sports Commission will receive an "M" mark under a new system of approval and support designed to facilitate their evolution into market-oriented and sustainable events.

The "M" Mark System and Support Packages for Major Sports Events was unveiled by the Major Sports Events Committee (MSEC) today (November 12) at a ceremony well attended by the sports community at Sports House, So Kon Po.

The Secretary for Home Affairs, Dr Patrick Ho, who attended the launch ceremony, congratulated the MSEC for devising a comprehensive "M" mark scheme after its establishment a year ago. "I am confident that the 'M' mark scheme will be a valuable vehicle to nurture more quality and sustainable sports events to be staged in Hong Kong, hence strengthening Hong Kong's position as a regional hub for major sports events," he said.

Speaking at the launch, the chairman of the committee, Mr Herman Hu, said: "We hope the scheme will pool the resources of various sectors of society, including the sports, tourism and business sectors, to stage more world-class sports events so as to promote public interest in sports, foster social cohesion and bring tangible economic benefits to the community."

Support packages will be tailor-made to meet the needs of individual events awarded the "M" mark.

Such support may include professional advice from the MSEC's Advisory Panel on organisation, sponsorship and marketing and promotional strategies, logistics support from relevant Government departments, and enhanced local and overseas publicity opportunities.

Funding support, available during the first three years of an event, will be in the form of an interest-free loan, matching fund or direct grant.

The interest-free loan, aimed at alleviating the cash-flow deficiency of National Sports Associations (NSAs) during the planning stage of an event, is to be repaid within six months of the completion of the event.

The matching fund, aimed at encouraging the organiser to solicit commercial sponsorship, is capped at $3 million, $2 million and $1 million for the first, second and third year of the event respectively.

The direct grant, for eligible items only, is limited to $1.5 million (first year), $700,000 (second year) and $500,000 (third year), or 70% of the expenditure on eligible items, whichever is less.

Either the matching fund or the direct grant, but not both, can be applied for.

Applications will be subject to vigorous screening in accordance with a set of guidelines agreed by the MSEC.

To be eligible for consideration by the MSEC for receipt of the "M" mark, a sports event should involve overseas athletes, attract significant public interest locally and overseas and be of international significance to the sport(s) concerned.

The economic, social and cultural benefits that the event may bring will also be taken into account.

In general, applications for "M" mark event status and support packages are to be made by NSAs, but other sports organisations and their appointed agents may apply under certain conditions.

In order to encourage the commercial sector to bring more major international or mega sports events to Hong Kong, applications for the "M" mark from business organisations, including public relations firms and promoters, are also welcome, provided that no funding support from the Government is required.

Organisations wishing to apply for the "M" mark event funding support or solely for the "M" mark status can contact the Secretariat of the MSEC at the Home Affairs Bureau, 41/F Revenue Tower, 5 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong (Fax 2519 7404).

Recognised events will be grouped together to form a Hong Kong Major Sports Events Calendar for overseas promotion and publicity to attract overseas sports spectators.

The "M" mark scheme is designed to complement the Leisure and Cultural Services Department's existing funding arrangements for major local international events organised by NSAs. Upon its inception, the "M" mark scheme will be subject to periodic review in light of its operating experience.

Ends/Friday, November 12, 2004
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