* Press Release
* *

2nd Hong Kong Games holds opening ceremony today (with photos)

The 2nd Hong Kong Games (HKG) were officially launched after the Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang, declared the opening at Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground tonight (May 9). Starting from today, some 2,300 athletes from the 18 districts will be taking on each other and demonstrating their mettle in six sports.

The Opening Ceremony started at 8pm with a parade of athletes led by a Hong Kong Games flag held by local elite athletes, including Mr Lai Chun-ho (athletics), Mr Wong Wing-ki (badminton), Mr Tam Wai-yeung (basketball), Miss Sherry Tsai (swimming), Miss April Yu (table tennis) and Mr Yu Hiu-tung (tennis), representing the six sports of the 2nd HKG.

Joining the march were the cheering teams from the 18 districts, all trying to outshine each other with their colourful outfits and choreographed movements.

After the solemn flag raising ceremony was held, the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Tsang Tak-sing addressed the audience and athletes and encouraged people to actively participate in sports. He pointed out that although the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, with the support from Hong Kong people, had smoothly completed the quarantine measures against the first confirmed case of human swine influenza yesterday, people should remain vigilant in the fight against the pandemic. Mr Tsang reminded the public of the importance of good health and strong physique, which would be the best preventive measures.

Mr Tsang said Hong Kong would host the 5th East Asian Games (EAG) with a record of 23 sports items and yielding 281 gold medals. The 2nd HKG, as a prelude to the EAG, would further enhance the interest of the people in sports and test the efficacy of venues of the EAG.

He expressed thanks to two Olympic gold medalists, Mr Li Ning and Ms Lee Lai-shan, for attending the Opening Ceremony as their presence had added glamour to the event. Mr Tsang extended his sincere invitations to the people of Hong Kong to actively take part in the 2nd HKG and the 5th EAG so as to bear witness to this epoch in sports development.

After the Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang, had declared the opening of the 2nd Hong Kong Games, an athlete from the overall champion of the 1st HKG, Kwai Tsing district, took an oath on behalf of all the participating athletes of the 2nd HKG.

The Honorary President of the Organising Committee of the 2nd Hong Kong Games, Mr Timothy Fok, and the Chairman of the Organising Committee, Mr Chau How-chen, lighted a torch and passed to two elite athletes, Mr Wong Kam-po and Miss Annie Au, to start the torch relay. Athletes representing the 18 districts also joined the torch relay. The ceremony reached its climax as Olympic gold medalists, Mr Li Ning and Ms Lee Lai-shan, accompanied by eight local elite athletes, lighted the Cauldron of the Games.

Lion and dance troupe performances were then held, heralding series of entertainment shows. The "Dancing and Drumming Exultantly for the EAG" had incorporated the East Asian Games elements. With the performers wearing in national costumes of the nine EAG participating countries/regions, the cultural characteristics and the 23 sports of the EAG were highlighted. This was followed by the singing of the EAG theme song, "Be the Legend" in choir.

After performances by local pop stars Mr Hacken Lee, Miss Charlene Choi, Mr Hins Cheung, Vincy and Mr William Chan, the Opening Ceremony ended in a pyrotechnic show. .

The 2nd HKG is a major multi-sport event of the territory held biennially since 2007 with the 18 District Councils as participating units. The 2nd HKG comprises six sports, namely athletics, basketball, badminton, swimming, table tennis and tennis with awards for individuals, teams and overall champion. The 18 District Councils have fielded some 2,300 athletes to take part in the 2nd HKG, representing an 80 per cent increase over the 1,200 in the previous games.

Other officiating guests of the Opening Ceremony included the Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs, Mrs Carrie Yau; the Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Mr Thomas Chow and the chairmen and representatives of the 18 District Councils.

Members of the public are welcomed to watch the sport competitions to be held at various sports venues of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) starting from tomorrow. Dates and venues are shown at the LCSDs dedicated webpage on 2nd HKG (www.lcsd.gov.hk/specials/hkg/en/index.php).

The 2nd Hong Kong Games are organised by the Sports Commission and co-ordinated by its Community Sports Committee with support from the 18 District Councils, the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China, relevant National Sports Associations and the LCSD.

Ends/Saturday, May 9, 2009
Issued at HKT 22:56