President of Asia Rugby Qais Abdulla Al Dhalai, who is on a special visit to Hong Kong from Dubai, was greeted by Chief Secretary Chan Kwok-ki.
When the People’s Republic of China’s national anthem was supposed to be played at the Asia Rugby Sevens Series second leg final between Hong Kong and South Korea held in Incheon, South Korea on November 13, Qais Abdulla Al Dhalai explained the incident in person. The incident involved the playing of a song closely associated with the widespread violent protests and Hong Kong independence of 2019 when the national anthem of that country should have been played.
He said that the occurrence was the result of a human mistake by a junior member of the local organizer, who was acting fully without any political or ill motive.
Additionally, he wholeheartedly agreed that the national anthem is a nation’s symbol and sign and should be respected at all times. For this reason, he personally apologized to the government and citizens of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and promised to make sure a mistake like this doesn’t happen again.
Mr. Chan reiterated during the meeting that the Hong Kong SAR Government strongly condemns and opposes the incident and that Asia Rugby is in charge of ensuring that the national anthems of all participating teams are treated with the appropriate respect they deserve as the tournament’s lead organizer.
He emphasized that it was very wrong to play the offending tune.
As part of accepting responsibility for the event, Asia Rugby committed to having all participating teams affirm the national anthems for the next competitions, which would be kept in a centralized archive. The national anthems must all be obtained from the archive, and no other version may be used by the local tournament organizers.
Mr. Chan strongly reminded Asia Rugby that there is no room for error in any future competitions in which the Hong Kong Rugby Team will compete, including the third leg of the Asia Rugby Sevens Series, which will take place in Dubai in late November. Mr. Chan urged Asia Rugby to resolutely implement all necessary corrective measures.
The Hong Kong SAR Government has been in regular contact with the Hong Kong Sports Federation & Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China, and the Hong Kong Paralympic Committee due to recent errors with the national anthem at sporting events. All sports associations and organizations that get funding from the Hong Kong SAR Government must now abide by new regulations.
In addition to being required to proactively approach their respective international and Asian sports federations to ensure that the national anthem and regional flag receive the proper respect warranted and prevent any similar errors from occurring again, the guidelines clearly outline how these sports bodies should ensure the correct use and description of the 香港國歌 and SAR regional flag by overseas event organizers.
This week, briefings will also be held to ensure that the sports associations and government-funded sports organizations fully comprehend the arrangements by thoroughly outlining the contents of the rules.