The following is issued on behalf of the 2009 East Asian Games (Hong Kong) Limited:
The first days events in the Fifth East Asian Games are set for a bright start with a fine sunny day and gentle breeze being forecast for Hong Kong tomorrow (December 2).
With the official opening of the 2009 Games still four days away, a number of popular events will begin tomorrow. Three events are indoors and football will kick off at the Siu Sai Wan Sports Ground. Basketball will be held in the Western Park Sports Centre, volleyball at the Hong Kong Coliseum and table tennis at Queen Elizabeth Stadium.
As World Cup fever begins to grip the globe, there is no denying the popularity of football. Six of the nine competing nations will field their best players. It is expected that Korea, Japan and the DPR Korea, who have qualified for the South African finals in six months time, are the favourites. But Hong Kong, playing on home soil and to a home crowd, may have an eye on the crown.
Volleyball teams from seven competing nations will spike up the hit-and-smash action within the Hong Kong Coliseum for the next eight days as favourites China and Japan aim for gold. The dark horse in the field may be Korea or its northerly neighbour.
The Chinese juggernaut is also expected to steamroll through the table tennis tournaments in the mens, womens, doubles and mixed doubles events. Hong Kong favourite sons, Ko Lai-chak and Li Ching, will try to emulate their past Olympic glory. They know that when they step up to play, the home crowd will cheer them on to medal contention.
The basketball courts of Western Park Sports Centre will see keen cross-court charges and dunks between top teams of China, Korea, Mongolia and Japan. The seven-day preliminary games culminate in the Hong Kong Coliseum on December 11 when the top two teams go for gold.
A spectacular ceremony, using the magnificent Hong Kong harbour as a backdrop, will be staged on Saturday evening (December 5) and State Councillor Madam Liu Yandong and the Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang, will declare the Fifth East Asian Games officially open.
In all, almost 2,300 athletes from eight regional nations – China, Mongolia, the Democratic Republic of Korea, Japan, Chinese Taipei, Korea, Macau and Guam – join the 438 athletes from Hong Kong to lock horns in 1,700 competition events.
And after two weeks of sporting excellence 262 gold medallists will go away with fond memories while the rest, with shattered dreams, can only hope to do better at the next sporting pit-stop or wait for the next Games.