Photo taken on July 14, 2020 shows Golden Bauhinia Square in Hong Kong. (Photo/Xinhua)
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has issued guidelines requiring coaches and athletes to immediately use their hands to signal a time-out if they notice errors in the national anthem or flag during overseas matches.
The guidelines, issued on Tuesday by the city’s sports group – the Sports Federation and the Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China – came as a song closely linked to separatism was mistakenly played as China’s national anthem during three rugby matches that the Hong Kong rugby team played in South Korea.
In the aftermath of the confusion, Qais Abdulla Al Dhalai, chairman of Asia Rugby – organizer of one of the matches – made a special visit to Hong Kong on Tuesday to apologize for the gaffe during his meeting with the chief secretary of the Eric Chan Kwok administration. -ki.
Qais agreed that the national anthem is the symbol of a nation and should be respected at all times, therefore his apology was delivered in person to the government and people of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and s is committed to ensuring that no similar mistake happens again. , according to a statement issued by the Hong Kong SAR government.
Chan reiterated at the meeting that the Hong Kong SAR government strongly deplores and opposes the incident, and that as the main organizer of the tournament, Asia Rugby is responsible for ensuring that the anthems nationals of all participating teams are given due respect.
He urged Asia Rugby to implement corrective measures and reminded Asia Rugby that there is no room for mistakes in future tournaments involving the Hong Kong rugby team, including the third leg. of the Asia Rugby Sevens Series to be held in Dubai at the end of November.
Hong Kong police are investigating the incident, along with two previous similar cases that have since surfaced. Online video clips posted on a popular sports broadcast channel of two Rugby World Cup qualifying matches, one against Portugal in Dubai on November 6 and the other on July 23 against Tonga, labeled the Chinese national anthem March of the Volunteers with the name of the separatist-related song.
According to the guidelines, the sports federation will also provide toolkits containing the correct national anthem and regional flags for its 82 member associations – the so-called national sports associations – which will be passed on to the event organiser.
Culture, Sports and Tourism Secretary Kevin Yeung Yun-hung said on Wednesday that the new guidelines will help teams playing outside the country better understand how to handle errors and ensure that the use of the national anthem and regional flag is in full compliance with these ordinances. .
The guidelines have received support from sports groups in the city.
In a statement, the Hong Kong Rugby Union pledged to incorporate these guidelines as part of an internal review of its protocols and procedures.
The union has agreed that it and its representative teams and athletes will be responsible for ensuring that Hong Kong’s image is upheld when competing overseas.
According to the guidelines, national sports associations that fail to comply may face sanctions, including suspension of membership or government grants, depending on the circumstances.
Hong Kong Football Association president Pui Kwan-kay said the guidelines will help sports associations understand how to handle mistakes when playing the national anthem and the correct way to use flags. regional.
He also said playing the wrong national anthem or displaying the wrong regional flag are serious offenses and warrant the penalties mentioned in the guidelines.