On September 16, the Hong Kong Athletics Association Affiliates (HKAAA) announced that Hong Kong Marathon 2022 is canceled.
The event scheduled for November 20, was canceled, citing the current pandemic on the island, and the delay in the government’s approval of the event as the reasons, said the HKAAA press release.
The decision was based on the fact that with only 2 months left before the event, there was not enough time to organize. Runners need months to train and prepare for such an event.
The sporting event attracts some 70,000 local and international runners every year. And it is the most popular on the island since it began in 1997.
However, observers believe there are political reasons behind the cancellation. The CCP fears social reactions, because of the tough COVID-19 pandemic restrictions it has been implementing.
Another reason for a social demonstration would be the national security law (NSL). The Chinese Communist Party is afraid of being exposed at an international sporting event that can be seen around the world.
Since the implementation of the NSL in 2020, the life of the island’s citizens has completely changed.
Millions of Hong Kongers have taken to the streets to demonstrate peacefully against the law. The law states that Hong Kongers can be taken to the mainland to stand trial for crimes they are charged with in Hong Kong.
Hong Kongers know that in mainland China their individual rights are not protected, as freedom does not exist in the Asian giant.
Recall that the CCP took control of the island in the 1997, when the British government made succession conditional on respecting Hong Kong’s form of self-government, hence the phrase “One country two systems.”
But the CCP in its quest for absolute control has implemented this series of new laws that negatively affect the citizens of the island.
What was once known as “One Country Two Systems” is becoming one country overwhelmed by CCP repression.
This time the crackdown seems to have reached sporting events. Because they attract so many participants, and are broadcast around the world, the CCP fears that its repressive apparatus will be exposed.
Other problems with previous marathons
In October 2021, several marathon runners were ordered to change their clothing, and cover their tattoos, because they were considered political slogans. With the introduction of the new security law, there is no place left for any kind of expression.
According to the Hong Kong Free Press, participants in the marathon got into trouble with the police for wearing clothes with the phrase Go Hong Kong!
The expression “Hong Kong, give it gas!” or “Let’s go Hong Kong!” is very common on the island to give encouragement or support. And it has been used by many pro-democracy groups in recent years.
Several social media users were quick to comment on the situation.
“Police consider ‘Hong Kong, Add Oil!’ a ‘political slogan,’ where a runner is asked to replace her shorts with that phrase, said one Twitter user.
Another Twitter user commented, “The marathon is becoming a politically sensitive event.” And he showed text from the organizers’ rules that said, among other things:
“Follow the official rules and regulations. Do not wear outfits with political messages. Those who fail to comply will not be allowed to take part. The organizer may report the case to law enforcement agencies for follow up.”
Sporting events canceled
Several of the island’s flagship sporting events have been canceled during the year due to alleged health issues related to the pandemic.
According to the South Morning China Post, (SMCP), two flagship Hong Kong events have been canceled, or taken to another country, due to strict government controls.
“The Oxfam Trailwalker (OTW) was canceled for the fourth time due to strict quarantines on the island,” reported SMCP on September 16.
Instead, the event will take place virtually between November 28 and December 18, and a face-to-face event may be organized for February 2023.
In addition, the island’s most popular boat race was also moved to another country.
“The 2023 World Dragon Boat Racing Championships, which were to be held in Hong Kong next August, were moved to Thailand due to the city’s quarantine requirements for inbound travelers,” the SMCP added on September 17.
Several of these sporting events are part of the Hong Kong tradition, and with them being canceled or moved, many fear they will never return.
One of the inevitable consequences of communism in any country is the annihilation of its culture based on ancient traditions. This is to strip the people of their identity and take total control. Hong Kong is unfortunately headed down this tragic path.