Having been at the helm of local sports since March 2016, the president of the Sports Bureau (ID), Pun Weng Kun, had his term extended in late February this year for another two years until 2022.
When Pun took leadership of the ID, he drew focus to Macau lacking “sports talents” when compared with many neighboring countries and regions.
At the time, Pun also said that although track and field and football are popular sports activities in Macau, the region faces difficulties in competing with neighboring regions and countries in those sports as there is a big gap between the levels at which Macau and others regions compete.
Drawing his path, he said that in terms of competitive sports, “we should keep identifying young athletes with good potential and cultivating them.”
In an exclusive interview with the Times, Pun reviewed some of the most significant milestones from the last four years in his role, in addition to speculating about upcoming challenges. He also addressed the status of the work he identified as a priority for Macau’s sports development.
Macau Daily Times (MDT) – The ID has been working hard to promote sports and raise the quality of local athletes. What are some of the most memorable milestones from the last four years?
Pun Weng Kun (PWK) – Over the past few years, the Sports Bureau has focused on the development of Macau athletes and the promotion of “Sport-for-All”. With the joint efforts of our predecessors and partners, we have achieved important milestones in recent years.
For example, in 2016, the ID assumed the responsibility of coordinating the organization of the city’s largest sporting event, the Macau Grand Prix, and since then we have continued to stage many world-class races.
At the 2018 Asian Games, Macau won its second-ever gold medal in Wushu plus the first-
ever medal in triathlon.
Another great achievement recently was the completion and opening of the Athlete Training and Development Centre [in Cotai] last year, which provides more professional training facilities for Macau athletes.
MDT – Sports-tourism was raised in the Policy Address of the new government led by Ho Iat Seng. As the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) will soon be transferred to a different secretariat, will it cause any interference in the development of such work?
PWK – Over the years, the ID has always had good relations, communication, and cooperation with the MGTO as well as with other government departments. We believe this procedure of transferring of the MGTO from the Secretariat for Social Affairs and Culture into that of Economy and Finance will not have a significant impact on future work.
MDT – How is the ID working to implement the new government’s plan to expand the number of sports facilities in Macau?
PWK – In the past, the ID needed to make continuous adjustments to the distribution of sports facilities, such as relocating some training teams to the Macao East Asian Games Dome area to free up sports facilities in the Macau peninsula for public usage.
We have also been exploring different means to increase spaces for sports. On that part, we focused on inviting local schools and social organizations to join the Public Sports Facilities network, optimizing the existing sports facilities, and at the same time liaising with the works department for the construction of more sports facilities.
In the future, we will continue to work towards this goal so that, in both the short-term and long-term, we can provide the public with more and better-equipped sports facilities.
MDT – On the topic of new facilities, when does the ID expect the new Mong-Ha Pavilion to be ready for operations?
PWK – The Mong-Ha Pavilion has always been one of the most popular sports facilities in Macau. The ID has been in close communication with the public works department [to closely monitor the construction status]. The construction of the sports facility is progressing well and we expect the pavilion to be completed in mid-2021.
MDT – Due to the Covid-19 situation and the associated travel restrictions, organizing the Macau Grand Prix has been particularly challenging this year. How is the preparation going?
PWK – We have encountered different challenges in the preparation of this year’s Macau Grand Prix. In the past few months, we have been working on multiple plans [adapted to different scenarios] and we are now confident that we will be able to deliver a successful event this year.
[Until the event date,] we will continue to closely monitor the development of the Covid-19 pandemic and make appropriate preventive arrangements based on the guidelines from the health authorities.
Every year, we strive to provide a high-quality racing event to residents, tourists, and motorsport fans. When planning for the race program, we always choose to host races that are most beneficial to the Macau Grand Prix.
MDT – This has been a difficult year in terms of hosting major and international sporting events. How is the ID coping with this situation? Will we see a return next year of all major events normally staged in Macau?
PWK – During the pandemic, the ID [has not stopped working and] has been organizing or planning for several major sporting events to be hosted both this year and in the upcoming year.
On such a list of events [for this year] are annual events such as the Macau Grand Prix and the Macau International Marathon. At the same time, we are evaluating the possibility of organizing new events [still this year] and we are developing multiple plans according to the situation, so that when the pandemic stabilizes, we can provide more popular sporting events for residents and visitors.
MDT – Is it your intention to continue in the role of president of the ID?
PWK – I have always loved sports since I was a child and I am grateful for the opportunities given by my superiors from past to present to turn my interest into a career.
I am happy that I can continue to work with my colleagues and partners in the sports sector. I will continue to put all my efforts into my job, serve the public, and to contribute the best of my capacities to Macau’s sports sector.