Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – At least 27 exclusive sports clubs have been receiving government-facilitated rentals for years, allowing them to pay almost 400 million Hong Kong dollars less (about 42 million euros). The complaint comes from an ecological organization, the Green Sense, which today presented the results of an investigation, published in the South China Morning Post. Roy Tam, the head of Green Sense, comments: “This is unjust because the government helps the rich”.
The group asks the government to force the opening of sports clubs to all the population, or to re-adjust the prices of facilitated rents. In some cases this rent is 3% of the market price.
Hong Kong has long suffered from lack of space for public housing and the prices of apartments are so high that it makes it almost impossible for young people to look for accommodation or get married and have a home.
The facilities given to sports clubs were launched in 1979 with the idea of providing recreation centers for the population. But almost all clubs are reserved for members only, with prohibitive registration fees for an ordinary resident in the territory.
The clubs defend themselves by saying that they open their facilities to groups for many hours a year, but Green Sense points out that the opening hours to the public are during working hours. “Spaces are rented at discounted prices in the name of the public interest, but they are not used for the public,” says Tam.
The government has promised that it will review the conventions to rebalance support for sport and at the same time safeguard its public use.