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Wednesday, August 17, 2016, 19:42

Mainland stars of Rio Olympics to visit HK

By Wang Yuke

Mainland stars of Rio Olympics to visit HK
China's Ding Ning (L), Li Xiaoxia (C) and Liu Shiwen carry the national Chinese flag as they celebrate winning the women's team gold medal final table tennis match against Germany at the Riocentro venue during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on Aug 16, 2016. ( Luis Acosta / AFP)

HONG KONG - A delegation of mainland gold medalists from the Rio Olympics will make a three-day visit to Hong Kong at the end of the month.

The visit is regarded as a good opportunity for athletes from the mainland and Hong Kong to exchange techniques and insights on sports and learn from each other, said Director of Leisure and Cultural Services Michelle Li Mei-sheung.

The delegation will stay in Hong Kong from Aug 27 to 29. Some of the gold medalists are expected to offer table tennis and diving demonstrations on the second day, while another group will take part in an exchange session with local youth at Ma On Shan Sports Centre. On the same day, a gala will be held in the evening at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium where local celebrities as well as some of the mainland athletes will perform on the stage.

The delegation will visit the Hong Kong Sports Institute on the last day, exchanging experiences with local elite athletes, before leaving for Macao.

Invitation letters have been sent to mainland athletes, but the name list is yet to be finalized because a number of Olympic events are still underway, Li said. It is likely that 60 athletes will make up the list and that silver and bronze medalists could be included too, as Li acknowledges that Hong Kong people are very eager to know who will come.

Li appreciates the visit as a platform to further the communication and relationship between athletic elites of both sides, which is also important for the local athletes to hone their techniques and improve their competence.

Li is not quite concerned about the security issues during the three-day events. She said, “It’s all about sports and celebration. We believe every participant will take part in the event with the spirit of respecting, appreciating and celebrating. We expect everyone could treasure the opportunity.”

The government decided to put on the gala at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium instead of the Hong Kong Sports Centre – which served as the major venue for the gala show as well as badminton demonstrations in 2012 when a group of mainland medalist representatives visited Hong Kong after the London Olympics – because of unpredictable weather.

Queen Elizabeth Stadium would be a safer alternative to the previous one as it has better protection for unexpected typhoons and extreme heat, Li explained. Besides, the stadium has more advanced facilities that allow better interaction between the audience and performers and will also provide a more enjoyable visual experience for television viewers who cannot go to the live show.

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