April 30 - More than 3,000 athletes in Hong Kong have benefitted from the Hong Kong Athletes Career and Education Programme (HKACEP) since it was launched in 2008, the country's Secretary for Home Affairs, Tsang Tak-sing, has claimed.
The HKACEP was launched to support athletes in areas such as career development and pursuit of academic studies whilst continuing to compete in their sport.
It also provides assistance to retired athletes and those who are about to retire to plan for a second career.
Hong Kong's Home Affairs Bureau (HAB) has helped administer the programme in partnership with stakeholders including the Hong Kong Sports Institute (HKSI) and the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, (SF&OC).
From its launch in September 2008 up until the end of March this year, Tsang claims that there were around 3,000 athletes have used the HKACEP services, which includes subsidising athletes' tuition fees on scholarships at various institutions.
In addition, Tsang claimed that in the five years 1,257 elite athletes, 144 of which were planning to retire soon, have participated in a second programme called the Athletes Integrated Educational and Vocational Development Programme (AIEVDP) which is run by the HKSI.
The AIEVDP offers diversified support to athletes in educational and career development, including tutorial support, education subsidy, coach training, personal development and exchange/learning.
Tsang, who was answering a query from Hong Kong Legislative Council member, Frankie Yick also claimed that in the last three financial years a total of 34 athletes received grants amounting to around HKD $3.5 million (£268,000/$451,000/€325,000) from the Hong Kong Athletes Fund (HKAF).
The HKAF allows current athletes and athletes who have retired for less than two years to apply for tuition grants and subsistence allowance for approved certificate, diploma or degree courses run by educational institutions in Hong Kong.
Tsang concluded by promising that the HAB will continue to monitor the effectiveness of the HKACEP and AIEVDP programmes as well as engage in dialogue with athletes through the HKSI and the SF&OC of Hong Kong.
Last month Tsang became involved in a row between the SF&OC of Hong Kong and short track speed skater Barton Lui Pan-to, who said he was let down by the Committee for not providing adequate medical support at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games, where he was Hong Kong's only representative.
Tsang questioned why the SF&OC of Hong Kong has applied for Government funding for medical personnel when they put forward their plans for Sochi 2014.
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