22nd November 2022 – (Hong Kong) The Chief Secretary for Administration of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), Mr Chan Kwok-ki, met with the President of Asia Rugby, Mr Qais Abdulla Al Dhalai, who specially paid a visit to Hong Kong from Dubai, in the afternoon today. The latter explained in person the incident about the playing of a song closely associated with the widespread violent protests and “Hong Kong independence” in 2019 during a session that the National Anthem of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) should have been played at the final between Hong Kong and South Korea of the Asia Rugby Sevens Series’ second leg held in Incheon, South Korea on 13th November. He said that the incident was due to a human error, entirely without any political or malicious intent, from a junior member of the local organiser concerned. He totally agreed that the national anthem is the symbol and sign of a nation and must be respected on all occasions, hence his apology extended in person to the Government and people of the HKSAR, and undertook to ensure no similar mistake will happen again.
At the meeting, Mr Chan reiterated that the HKSAR Government strongly deplores and opposes the incident, and that, as the tournament’s lead organiser, Asia Rugby is responsible for ensuring the national anthems of all participating teams receive the rightful respect warranted. He stressed that the playing of the song closely associated with the widespread violent protests and “Hong Kong independence” in 2019 in the incident was totally unacceptable.
With the responsibility taken for the incident, Asia Rugby undertook that they will confirm with all participating teams for future tournaments the national anthems concerned, which will be stored in a centralised archive. All the local organisers of the tournaments are required to obtain the national anthems from the archive and not allowed to use any other version. Mr Chan urged Asia Rugby to steadfastly implement all necessary remedial measures, and firmly reminded Asia Rugby that there is absolutely no room for any mistake in all future tournaments to be participated by the Hong Kong Rugby Team, including the Asia Rugby Sevens Series’ third leg to be held in Dubai in late November.
In view of the mistakes concerning the National Anthem of the PRC in sports events recently, the HKSAR Government has been in liaison with the Hong Kong Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China and the Hong Kong Paralympic Committee. Guidelines were promulgated today for all “national sports associations” and all sports organisations subvented by the HKSAR Government. They clearly set out how they should ensure the correct use and description by overseas events’ organisers of the National Anthem of the PRC and the Regional Flag of the HKSAR, and also require them to proactively approach their respective international and Asian sports federations to ensure that the National Anthem and Regional Flag receive the rightful respect warranted and prevent any similar mistake from happening again. Also, briefings will be conducted this week to explain in detail contents of the Guidelines to the “national sports associations” and HKSAR Government-subvented sports organisations, with a view to ensuring that they clearly understand the arrangements concerned.