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劉廼強 | 15th Dec 2009 | China Daily (Hong Kong Edition) | (32 Reads)

Adopting athletic competitions and spectator sports as morale boosters and unifying tools is an ancient Western invention. It dates back to the Greeks, and was perfected by the Romans. With the popularization of modern media, especially the television and now the Internet, the effects of large sporting events can only be described as mesmerizing. This was witnessed at the Olympic Games in Beijing last year, and on a lesser scale, but even more exuberantly at the just completed East Asian Games.

Despite some minor logistic hiccups in the beginning, which were exaggerated in our media, the entire city was moved by the successive winning of medal after medal by our athletes. Chief Executive Donald Tsang was visibly overjoyed, along with thousands of cheering spectators at the stadium and millions who watched on TV on December 12 when our previously lackluster football team unexpectedly became the champions. Even a person like me who is not particularly keen on watching sports, and my Philippino domestic helper who is not even a citizen here, jumped up and shouted at the decisive moment when the ball was shot into the goal.

"We are not garbage!" shouted the Olympic windsurfing medallist Lee Lai-shan when she received her first gold. The agony expressed was widely echoed in the city, much tormented by unhappy incidents one after another since the handover as neighboring cities caught up, and opportunities passed by. For the past forty years Hong Kong has never been particularly strong in sports. Now with the successful hosting of the East Asian Games and the spectacular performance of the local athletes, we can prove once and for all, to ourselves and to the whole world that Hong Kong never can be written off, and given the right conditions, it will shine.

We are the legend, because our athletes have made us so. We should thank them for their years of dedicated hard work, and wish them every success in future competitions. We should also thank the organizers, because they have been subjected to tremendous pressure. Like everything in Hong Kong, there are always harsh criticisms, many of them unfounded or overblown. Whatever mishaps in the East Asian Games, they can now only be seen as minor. This is a highly successful event, and we all know it.

Let the winning spirit live on, and let us make more legends in our other endeavors!