Sports in Hong Kong
Major Sporting Events / Badminton / Baseball / Basketball / Bowling / Cricket / Cycling / Equestrian / Football (Soccer) / Golf / Martial Arts / Multi-Sport Tournaments / Rock Climbing and Bouldering / Rowing / Rugby / Running / Sailing / Squash / Swimming / Table Tennis / Tennis / Triathlons / Volleyball / Water Sports / Sports for People with Disabilities
Major Sporting Events
Most of the recognized sporting and competition events in Hong Kong are listed by the Major Sports Events Committee, which is tasked to advise on the policy and resource allocation for major sports events in Hong Kong.
Major sports events, such as the Hong Kong Marathon and Hong Kong Rugby Sevens, are assigned “M” mark status by the committee. This ensures that they receive the public support needed to make them into sustainable and profitable events. A list of all “M” marked events can be viewed on the committee’s website.
Badminton is a favorite national pastime in Hong Kong, played by young and old alike. Free outdoor public courts are provided in the urban areas and the New Territories, and indoor courts (located in sports centers) are available for hire by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. Court locations are listed on the Leisure and Cultural Services Department website; booking in advance via the LCSD Leisure Link is necessary for indoor courts.
The Hong Kong Badminton Association was founded in 1934 and organizes training and competitions in Hong Kong. Since 1982, it has regularly hosted the Hong Kong Open Badminton Championships, part of the HSBC BWF (Badminton World Federation) World Tour Super 500 series, which continues to attract some of the world’s top-ranked players.
Over many years, baseball slowly found its way onto Hong Kong’s team sport scene. In 1992, the Hong Kong Baseball Association was founded to promote the game of baseball in Hong Kong and to provide a facility for local enthusiasts. The Association is a member of the International Baseball Federation and the Baseball Federation of Asia, and its administration and activities are subvented by the Hong Kong SAR Government.
Children aged 5 to 14 can participate in Hong Kong Little League, a nonprofit organization.
You will be surprised by the level of interest in basketball in Hong Kong. Although nowhere near as high-profile as the NBA teams, local teams have improved a lot over the years, and more and more people now follow the games regularly.
In many parks and sports grounds, a friendly game between players is a common sight. One of the most popular basketball courts is at the Southorn Playground in Wan Chai.
Local associations and leagues include:
- Hong Kong Basketball Association (Chinese website only), which oversees the Hong Kong team as well as training programs for developing local talent;
- Hong Kong Development Basketball League (HKDBL), a social recreational league for women;
- Hong Kong Junior Basketball League, for children under the age of 14.
Bowling is a hugely popular indoor sport among families and young people in Hong Kong. In addition to some private clubs which offer bowling facilities, there are a number of bowling centers in the city. These include:
- Dragon Bowling Center, locations in Ho Man Tin, Tuen Mun, Tsuen Wan and Mei Lok
- SCAA Bowling Centre, Causeway Bay (HK$200 yearly membership fee required)
- Thunder Bowl, Hung Hom
- Tikitiki Bowling, Sai Kung
The Hong Kong Tenpin Bowling Congress was established in 1968 to promote the development of tenpin bowling activities in the city. It holds the Hong Kong International Open Bowling Championships annually.
The first records of cricket being played in Hong Kong date back to 1841. Even after the 1997 handover of Hong Kong to China, cricket still holds a major place in Hong Kong sports. Today, cricket is professionally administered by the Hong Kong Cricket Association and subsidized by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. Although cricket has traditionally been a game dominated by expatriates and the extensive South Asian communities resident here, there has been an influx of local players in recent years thanks to its rising popularity, and the emergence of shorter, faster versions of the sport.
The Hong Kong Cricket Association is the governing body of cricket in Hong Kong. Their website has more information about tournaments and where to play.
Cycling’s popularity has soared in Hong Kong in recent decades, with stars like Wong Kam-po and Sarah Lee becoming household names. The Cycling Association of Hong Kong oversees the Hong Kong cycling team and organizes local road cycling races and educational activities.
Enthusiasts have called on the government to provide more recreational cycling routes, as Hong Kong’s roads are considered too narrow and busy to safely cycle along. Transporting bicycles to cycling-friendly locations in Hong Kong and the New Territories is a challenge, as bikers are not allowed to carry their bikes onto most means of public transport; however, bikes are available for hire at many of these locations.
South Lantau is a popular destination for serious mountain and road bikers, and bicycles can be taken on the slow ferries to Mui Wo. The timetable is on the New World First Ferry website.
There is also a pleasantly flat 60-km route across the New Territories (from Tuen Mun to Ma On Shan, via Yuen Long, Sheung Shui, Tai Po and Tolo Harbour). Newly completed in 2020, the route features beautiful views of the mountains and Shenzhen. Casual riders can rent bikes from kiosks and leave them at other kiosks along the route.
The Cycling Information Centre (CIC), a pilot scheme launched by the Hong Kong government to provide a one-stop platform for the public, provides relevant information on recreational and leisure cycling activities. Locations of cycle tracks, cycling grounds and training are provided on their website.
The user-friendly Hong Kong Tourism Board website also provides information on popular cycling routes and bike tours in Hong Kong.
Horse racing in Hong Kong commenced in 1841 with the arrival of the British, and today it is the single most popular spectator sport in Hong Kong. Though geographically small and crowded, Hong Kong has a number of equestrian facilities in both private and public sectors.
The Hong Kong Equestrian Federation (HKEF) is dedicated to promoting equestrian sports in Hong Kong. It is the official body representing equestrian sports in Hong Kong at national and international levels. Every year, the HKEF hosts a series of international competitions including the Longines Masters showjumping competition, the FEI Dressage World Challenge, and the FEI Jumping Children’s Classics Final.
The HKEF cooperates closely with the Hong Kong Jockey Club and consolidates all matters related to equestrian sports. The HKEF organizes Hong Kong’s participation in the equestrian events at the Olympic Games, the Youth Olympic Games and the Asian Games.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club was founded in 1884 and changed from an amateur to a professional organization in 1971. Through its subsidiaries, the Jockey Club is the only authorized operator of horse racing in Hong Kong. Today, the thrilling thunder of hooves and the deafening roar of spectators can be heard in Hong Kong’s two high-tech racetracks, one in Happy Valley and the other in Sha Tin. Happy Valley races are generally run on Wednesdays, with races in Sha Tin happening on weekends and holidays.
One of the biggest events on the racing calendar is the Longines Hong Kong International Races in December, which draws trainers and owners from around the globe.
The Jockey Club manages three public riding schools, in Tuen Mun, Pokfulam and Lei Yue Mun (temporarily closed), as well as the Beas River Riding School (HKJC members only).
Other riding schools in Hong Kong include:
- Clearwater Bay Equestrian Centre
- Lo Wu Saddle Club
- International Riding Centre (Yuen Long)
- Tai Tong Riding Club (Yuen Long) (Chinese website only)
Football (soccer) is one of the most popular sports in Hong Kong, with a long history here. The Hong Kong Premier League, founded in 2014, is the highest division in Hong Kong. Local fans also pay close attention to the Premier League and EFL Championship divisions in the UK, as well as matches played in Europe.
The Hong Kong Football Association, founded in 1914, promotes local participation in the sport. Professional, youth and amateur football matches provide quality competition to encourage the sport in Hong Kong.
Children under the age of 14 can participate in the Hong Kong Junior Football League.
Golf was introduced to Hong Kong just over 100 years ago. Up to the end of the Second World War, it was mainly the preserve of expatriates, and even after the war, only members belonging to one of Hong Kong’s exclusive and expensive private golf clubs could play. Consequently, the game remained largely inaccessible to the middle classes until the late 1990s, when the government opened the Kau Sai Chau golf course in Sai Kung — the first and only public golf course in Hong Kong — to promote the game of golf within the territory. This initiative, in addition to the opening of several driving ranges across the city, has contributed to a growth in the golfing community over the last twenty years or so. Today, more than 80 percent of golfers in Hong Kong are of local Chinese ethnicity.
The Hong Kong Golf Association was set up in 1968 to coordinate activities at a territory-wide level, including running local tournaments, training players and financing teams to participate in overseas events. Its website lists major tournaments and events, as well as golf facilities in the city, such as outdoor courses, driving ranges and indoor centers.
Hong Kong Open
The Hong Kong Open, organized by the HK Golf Association, was first held in 1959, making it Hong Kong’s oldest professional sporting event. The Hong Kong Open is one of two tournaments in the world (the other being the US Masters at Augusta National) that has been held at the same venue every year for more than half a century. Sometimes called “Asia’s heritage tournament,” the Hong Kong Open is regarded as one of the biggest and most prestigious golf championships in the region.
Throughout its history, Hong Kong has produced some of the greatest martial artists the world has ever seen, such as the legendary Bruce Lee and Hollywood Kung Fu star, Jackie Chan. However, kung fu’s popularity has declined in the city in recent decades and fewer young people now take up Chinese martial arts.
Most traditional schools cater mainly for the local population, so expats without knowledge of Cantonese may find it difficult to find suitable training schools. When English-speaking classes are available, they can often take months to fill up to the minimum number required, so be prepared to wait a while.
Two places that do offer regular English-language lessons in Chinese martial arts are:
If you’re after a less rigorous training experience, the South China Athletic Association in Causeway Bay offers courses in various martial arts including Shaolin kung fu, taekwondo, judo, karate and qi kung. Muay Thai and Western-style boxing are also popular among locals and expats in Hong Kong (see Specialty Studios and Boutique Gyms).
Every two years, the Hong Kong Sports Commission organizes the Hong Kong Games. Athletes representing the 18 districts in Hong Kong compete in athletics, badminton, basketball, futsal (a ball sport, similar to football, played indoors on a hard court), swimming, table tennis, tennis and volleyball. As there is no minimum age for participation, the tournament is popular with up-and-coming junior athletes. Members of the community can participate in events like a fun run. The next games are scheduled for 2022.
The LCSD also organizes two biennial sporting competitions in Hong Kong: the Corporate Games and the Masters Games. The Corporate Games are open to teams from private and public sector organizations, with contests in athletics, badminton, basketball, distance running, snooker, table tennis, tennis, tenpin bowling, volleyball, 7-a-side mini-soccer and 11-a-side soccer. Participants in the Masters Games must be over 35 years old and can join events like distance running, badminton, and table tennis.
Rock Climbing and Bouldering
Due to the mountainous landscape of Hong Kong, the territory is also a popular place for rock climbing and abseiling. There are natural rock faces to suit all skill levels for both aided and unaided climbing. In addition to outdoor rock climbing, there are many gyms with climbing walls, including the YMCA in Tsim Sha Tsui.
Hong Kong Climbing has a list of indoor climbing walls, information about popular routes, and tips for local climbers.
There are 30 rowing clubs in Hong Kong affiliated with the Hong Kong, China Rowing Association, including several that are open to the public. The city has performed well at competitions, with competitors winning medals at the Asian Games and East Asian Games.
In addition to regular rowing activities, dragon boat racing is also a popular spectacle. To celebrate the traditional holiday of Tuen Ng (Dragon Boat Festival), various races and events take place in May or June each year in locations such as Tai O and Stanley.
If you would like to try your hand at joining a dragon boat team, there are many community teams that are open to newcomers. Many companies also sponsor corporate teams for rowers of all ability levels. A few dragon boat teams popular with expats include:
- AWA Globe Paddlers (women only)
- DB Pirates
- Lamma Dragons
- Stormy Dragons
Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Championships
The Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Championships at the Central Harbourfront is the largest organized event in celebration of the Tuen Ng festival. Teams of 20-22 rowers train for weeks beforehand to race against each other in boats specially painted and ornately carved to resemble dragons, urged on by cheering crowds and beating drums.
Rugby has been played in Hong Kong for as long as horses have been racing in Happy Valley. Early newspapers at the Hong Kong Public Records Office have accounts of rugby games played during the late 1870s and 1880s. Before World War I, the players were mainly army and navy men, together with the police and merchant cadets from the large trading houses. After World War II, local competition flourished, leading to the establishment of the Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU) in 1952.
The HKRU aims to raise awareness of rugby, while promoting, supporting and encouraging participation in the sport in Hong Kong and Asia. Besides managing and organizing the Hong Kong Sevens competition (see below), it also provides the facilities, support networks and training for those aspiring to represent Hong Kong in rugby, or for those who just have a general interest in the sport.
A number of clubs in Hong Kong cater to beginners and experienced players. These include: USRC Tigers, Gai Wu, SCAA First Pacific Causeway Bay, and Typhoons. The touch and tag variants of rugby have also gained considerable followings in Hong Kong since the early aughts. For more information, check out those sports’ governing bodies:
There is a massive mini-rugby community for children and youth aged between four and 19 in Hong Kong, with teams such as the Discovery Bay Pirates, Sai Kung Stingrays and South Lantau Buffaloes competing in a relentless round of weekend fixtures against the Hong Kong Football Club, Valley Fort and Sandy Bay teams from Hong Kong Island. There are 21 active teams with more than 5,000 children.
The HKRU’s website has lists of local clubs and mini rugby teams, as well as the latest news about tickets and match schedules.
Hong Kong Sevens
The three-day-long Hong Kong Rugby Sevens tournament is a premier event on the international rugby calendar and one of the biggest on Hong Kong’s sporting calendar. Avid rugby fans and revelers from all over the world pack into the 40,000-seat Hong Kong Stadium in late March or early April every year to watch exciting matches between the world’s top rugby nations. Although the event is generally family friendly, the raucous South Stand is famously packed with day-drinking revelers decked out in outlandish costumes, especially on Saturday, the second day of the tournament.