Lessons from Hong Kong’s sporting revival on the eve of the Handover anniversary


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(0:55) Recent podcast guest and F1 driver Zhou Guanyu finally has some good luck, finishing eighth at the Montreal Grand Prix. (1:36) He’s a fun follow on social media, sharing insider clips and not afraid to laugh at himself, (2:15) and the race itself was worth staying up into the small hours for — at least for Mark. (3:16) Haig attempts to steer the conversation back to his beloved Canada and their World Cup pursuits, (4:05) before the hosts discuss a new sports law in China that apparently is designed to protect the country’s honor on the world stage.

(7:03) Meanwhile, China and Taiwan have fired shots over an ID issue at the World Cup in Qatar: how to refer to Taiwanese fans — and will any of them actually be going? (8:36) The ATP’s Shanghai Masters says it’s going to be expanding from 2023, but the boys think this sounds premature — both from a COVID perspective as well as from a reputational and political angle. (11:19) Could tennis’s China swing be expanded, too? Probably not. (12:18) Make sure to check out an exciting new feature — Tweet of the Week — featuring a former NFL player, China, some toilet humor — and a bridge. Send in your suggestions for next week!

(14:30) Our guest this week is Hong Kong-based journalist Jonathan White, who’s covered sports in the Greater China region for well over a decade. (14:50) What did he make of an SCMP op-ed this week on Hong Kong’s recent sporting revival, and what lessons can the rest of China learn from what Hong Kong has achieved? (21:30) International headlines coming out of the city recently have tended to be fairly grim, but is sporting success improving morale in Hong Kong?

(24:33) Hong Kong’s football team just qualified for the Asian Cup for the first time in more than 50 years. How popular is the team in normal times? (26:51) And how soon will it be until fans can see another home game? (28:38) What about the hardcore support? How many fans will travel to support Hong Kong in the Asian Cup next summer — wherever it may be held?

(31:15) As a journalist, what are the differences White’s witnessed covering sports in both the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong? Hong Kong venues typically are more welcoming, it appears. (33:56) Mark compares the role of media outlets around the world: in China, it’s essentially PR, so why would Chinese teams want pesky journalists asking actual questions? (37:51) A discussion about the role (or lack of) fan engagement, (42:06) before White ends with some of his favorite China stories, including challenging US sprinter Jon Drummond to a race while out drinking during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.