Hong Kong served as the first stop of the 2nd cluster of the 2015 FINA World Cup Series and the meet certainly wasn’t lacking in the talent department. Australians Cate and Bronte Campbell, Emily Seebohm joined American headliners Missy Franklin and Madison Kennedy, along with other notables such as South African Cameron Van der Burgh and Hong Kong athlete Geoffrey Cheah to make the stop a memorable and speedy one.
Even with the high-profile athletes in attendance at Victoria Park, however, the Hong Kong locale may be left off of the 2016 FINA World Cup schedule, despite the Hong Kong Amateur Swimming Association (HKASA) having a four-year contract with FINA until 2017. Association President Ronnie Wong Man-chiu points to scheduling conflicts that may prevent Hong Kong from hosting its 3rd World Cup under the agreement.
According to Wong, FINA had proposed to stage the 2016 Hong Kong meet on October 12th and 13th, but the HKASA is already hosting the 2016 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup in Repulse Bay on October 15th. Additionally, on October 16th, Hong Kong is hosting its annual ‘cross-harbour race’, which is the biggest mass-participation competition on the domestic calendar, according to Wong. As the HKASA relies heavily on its volunteer force to operate its swimming events, Wong is concerned about finding enough people to help out at all three competitions if they were to land on the same week.
Another potential reason for Hong Kong wanting to drop the event could be that the site suffered a HK$1 million (approximately $130,000) loss on the recent World Cup event. However, Wong insists that the deficit has nothing to do with the scheduling situation. “It has nothing to do with the budget,” said Wong. “We anticipated the deficit before the start of the competition and went ahead because we want to provide Hong Kong swimmers the opportunity to reach the Olympic A qualifying standard with the benefit of racing against world-class swimmers from overseas. We also identified other resources to cover the loss and so it is not only about losing money.”
Also, Wong is confident that, if in fact Hong Kong does need to be dropped from the Series schedule for 2016, the Association will not suffer punishment from FINA due to Hong Kong “having a good working relationship with the world body” and the fact that they “already mentioned difficulties during the World Cup here.”