This year’s Summer Olympic Games will be like no other. Having been postponed by one year, the global sporting event will also impose a new set of rules upon its participants to ensure the Olympic village doesn’t become a hotbed of Covid-19 infection. There will be no talking during meals, no athlete mingling, no trips to restaurants or use of public transport, and the decision whether to allow local spectators was delayed until the end of June. As of late May, there were even calls from Japanese citizens to cancel the games and halt the influx of an estimated 80,000 people into a country with the lowest rate of vaccinations among developed nations.
Since first competing in the games in 1952, Hong Kong has won three medals: bronze by cyclist Lee Wai-sze for keirin in 2012, silver by Lo Lai-chak and Li Ching in men’s doubles table tennis in 2004, and Lee Lai-shan’s (aka San San’s) famous gold in mistral sailboarding, or windsurfing, in 1996. The city’s sports fans have high hopes for podium places at this year’s games because Hong Kong is entering a record number of contenders. Most notable is the high number of women competing, a demonstration of the city’s sports programmes’ growing strength and engagement with young women.
While additional athletes will qualify right up to the start of the games, here are some of the Hong Kong competitors to watch out for at this year’s Olympics, held from July 23 to August 8.
Sarah Lee Wai-Sze
This will likely be the final games for veteran track cyclist Sarah Lee Wai-sze, who is one of the city’s strongest podium hopes in Tokyo after her bronze in London, where she was also the Hong Kong flag bearer. The 35-year-old, a full-time athlete for 16 years, has countless gold medals to her name, spanning the Asian Games, Asian Cycling Championships and the UCI Track Cycling World Cup Classics, and holds Asian records in time trial events.
She says: “To compete at such a unique event is a milestone in itself. You don’t even need to think about medals and things. Doing the best I can in this environment will mean I have already succeeded.”