Hong Kong was among the first nations to embrace western sports than any of its other counterparts. It can be attributed to the fact that Hong Kong’s culture was greatly influenced by the British colonisers, dating back to the late 1800s.
It is why western sports like football, jogging and fitness, badminton, basketball, swimming, and cycling are more prevalent in Hong Kong than traditional Asian sports. This applies to participation and spectatorship, as the locals have obvious preferences.
Besides these, the trend of playing golf is also increasing. A growing economy has paved the way for the locals to indulge in the sport as a favourite pastime activity.
Hong Kong also has a huge reputation in the horse racing world, with regular horse racing events taking place at Sha Tin Racecourse, and Happy Valley Racecourse. Horse racing in Hong Kong is overseen by the Hong Kong Jockey Club.
Hong Kong has a Major Sports Events Committee that lists the recognised sports and their competition. It also advises on the respective policies and resource allocation for significant events in the region. There are separate associations for different sports along with provisional bodies like the YMCA and YWCA that work on promoting sports.
Here is your guide to the most popular sports in Hong Kong. Continue reading as we offer brief insights into the five most prevalent sports in the region.
Football in Hong Kong
Football dominates the sports landscape in Hong Kong, with most of the population preferring to follow football over any other game. The locals were introduced to the game at the time of the British colonisers, and the first football club was formed as early as 1886. Hong Kong had its first formal football competition in 1898, the Challenge Shield.
Presently, football is administered by the Hong Kong Football Association, established in 1914, and was one of the founding members of the Asian Football Confederation. The association is responsible for overseeing the sport’s affairs and domestic leagues.
At the top of the hierarchy is the Hong Kong Premier League, which was established in 2014. The Premier League has ten teams and follows a demotion and promotion system with the Hong Kong First Division.
Badminton in Hong Kong
Badminton is one of the most popular sports in Hong Kong. The locals not only like to play badminton but watch it as well. According to a survey, it is the most followed sport in the region. Over the years, Hong Kong has produced some great talent in badminton. For instance, Tang Chun Mana and Tse Ying Suet reached the world no. 2 ranking in the mixed doubles category. Another notable player was Ng Ka Long Angus, who was ranked world no. 6 in the men’s single category.
Basketball in Hong Kong
Next on our list is basketball. One primary reason for the popularity of basketball in Hong Kong is that the national team regularly qualifies for the FIBA Asia Cup, attracting interest from the locals. However, in global FIBA rankings, the team lags far behind other playing nations.
The Hong Kong Basketball Association manages the basketball team, which has been a member of FIBA since 1957. At the domestic level, basketball clubs are also quite active in the region. Hong Kong’s team Regal won the ABC Champions Cup in 1997.
Cricket in Hong Kong
Cricket is one of the oldest sports played in Hong Kong. The earliest records of the sport being played in the region can be traced back to as early as 1841. The national cricket team of Hong Kong has been playing actively since 1866.
However, the team did not become affiliated with the International Cricket Council until 1969. This was a year after the establishment of the Hong Kong Cricket Association. Until 2012, Hong Kong hosted the Hong Kong Cricket Sixes, an ICC-endorsed event that featured matches of six overs played between teams with six players each.
Hong Kong’s national team also qualified for the ICC World T20 Championship. The team caused a major upset when it beat the host team Bangladesh.
Domestically, cricket is played during the cooler months in Hong Kong, i.e., from September to April. The region has three grass pitches, while the rest of the grounds have artificial pitches. The top domestic cricket league in Hong Kong is Sunday League which comprises eleven teams. There is another league, Saturday League comprising nineteen teams.
Dragon Boat Racing in Hong Kong
The last sport on our list is dragon boat racing. It is a popular traditional Chinese sport that was initially organised as part of Duan Wu, a traditional Chinese festive holiday. While the sport was initially limited to the region, it is now gaining traction internationally, and dragon boat races are organised the world over.
The oldest dragon boat races are held in Hong Kong annually as part of the festival. The Dragon Boat Association of Hong Kong was one of the founding members of the sport’s international and regional administrative bodies.