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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Hong Kong Ice Hockey Association could face sanctions over anthem fiasco

Hong Kong Ice Hockey Association could face sanctions over anthem fiasco

Preliminary investigation finds association did not follow protocol to prevent anthem blunders.

The Hong Kong Ice Hockey Association may be kicked out of the city’s sports federation and lose government funding after a preliminary investigation found it had failed to take the proper steps to ensure the Chinese national anthem was played at an international match.

In a report submitted to the government by the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China, on Friday, the team was said to be “clearly not in compliance with the requirements” of the protocol for the playing of the national anthem at the 2023 Ice Hockey World Championship Division III last week, when a song linked to the 2019 protests was used instead.

A protest song was played instead of the Chinese national anthem at the Asian Rugby Seven Series in Incheon, South Korea, in November 2022.


“[The committee], in conjunction with the respective department of the government, should consider implementing possible and appropriate sanctions against [the association],” it said.

Guidelines released last November stated sanctions could include suspension of membership in the National Sports Association under the committee and lose of subvention or funding from the government.

On Friday, the government said it would review the report and discuss follow-up action with the city’s sports federation.

The protocol was drafted hot on the heels of an embarrassing fiasco in which the protest song “Glory to Hong Kong” was played instead of the “March of the Volunteers” at a rugby match in South Korea’s Incheon in November.

The new guidelines placed extra responsibilities on the team leader, including distributing a hard copy of the anthem and a city flag to the event organiser with an official confirmation before the game and checking with them at the venue.

But the protest song was played last Tuesday following the city team’s defeat of Iran in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The athletes made a “T” shape with their hands to point out the blunder, which is part of the requirements under the new protocol.

The report criticised the ice hockey club for failing to come clean on whether they had followed the requirements of the city’s sports federation, including passing on a hard copy of the anthem or obtaining a written confirmation of receipt from the organiser.

“Despite persistent questioning by [the committee], [the association] has been evasive and failed to address such questions … It is therefore strongly believed that [the association] did not perform their duty in accordance with the guidelines,” the committee said.

The report said that while the organiser, the International Ice Hockey Federation, had ignored the team leader’s request to check the national anthem would be used, they did not follow up the request. The representative should have made a “more robust request”, which could have stopped the incident from happening, it said.

The report quoted Ji Ping, the Chinese ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, who said International Ice Hockey Federation staff had “inadvertently” downloaded the wrong song.

Pui Kwan-kay, honorary vice-president of the city’s sports federation.


The committee urged the event organiser to submit a report, which was to be sent by Friday.

The Hong Kong government “strongly deplored” the blunder and requested the local Olympic Committee conduct an in-depth investigation, while the organiser apologised for the incident.

Pui Kwan-kay, honorary vice-president of the city’s sports federation, had said it was the Hong Kong government’s responsibility to continue liaising with internet giant Google to ensure the Chinese national anthem was placed at the top of search results when the relevant key words were entered.

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