HONG KONG: Some 65 athletes, sports club representatives, volunteers, youngsters and well-known singers will bear the torch for the East Asian Games (EAG), coursing through the streets of Tsim Sha Tsui and Wan Chai next month as Hong Kong counts down to the December's big event.
Famous names on the list include cyclist Wong Kam-po, gymnast Li Xiaopeng, and table tennis players Li Ching and Ko Lai-chak.
Johnny Woo Wai-man, the chief executive officer of the 2009 East Asian Games, said torch bearers will carry the torch from the Kowloon Park in Tsim Sha Tsui to TVB City in Tseung Kwan O, where a gala will be held on August 29.
Tickets to events in 22 sports will go on sale from August 31. About a quarter of the tickets will be handed out to schools free, Woo said.
Lee Lai-shan, who won Hong Kong's first Olympic gold medal in women's mistral, was named yesterday as one of the torchbearers.
"This is the first time for Hong Kong to hold such a large-scale sports event. I hope Hongkongers can throw support to it," said Lee.
The flame will pass through Austin Road, Nathan Road, Salisbury Road, Avenue of Stars, the Victoria Harbour, Expo Drive East, Harbour Road, Expo Drive and the Gold Bauhinia Square, Woo said.
The order of the torchbearers will be announced in the middle of next month, he said.
Permanent secretary for Home Affairs Carrie Yau Tsang Ka-lai said the route covering some 10 kilometers is not too short. She expected the torch relay will be completed in two hours.
She agreed the scale of the East Asian Games torch relay will not be comparable to that of the Olympics.
More than 500 schools will also pass the flame from September to November. About 400,000 students will take part, Woo said.
On Tuesday, organizers abruptly decided to drop the bodybuilding event from the Games. Woo said the budget that had been set aside for bodybuilding will be used for other events.
Meanwhile, the design for the torch that will represent the EAG was also unveiled yesterday.
Kan Tai-keung, who came up with the design, said the 1.3kg-torch is curved like a cattle horn. He said it was the best fit for the 2009 Games, since they will take place in the Year of Ox.
Over 3,000 athletes are expected to join the Games that take the stage from December 5 to 13.
(HK Edition 07/24/2009 page1)