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Is Macao ready to be a ‘City of Sports and Shows’? Lawmakers have doubts

In the wake of Hong Kong’s embarrassment over a football match failure, several lawmakers say they’re worried Macao is setting itself up for a fall.





Lawmakers are concerned that Macao is rushing its efforts to become a hub for major international events, the Macau Daily Times reports. They claim there’s been a lack of proper planning around both infrastructure and expertise that’s already copping flak.

The Lionel Messi debacle in Hong Kong last weekend highlighted how poor event organisation and communication can harm a city’s reputation as a host. Last month, on the home front, K-pop concerts damaged the Olympic Sports Centre Stadium while enraging local residents with excessive noise and traffic jams. The K-pop fall-out prompted Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Elsie Ao Ieong to reconsider whether large-scale concerts should be held outside of resorts.

At the Legislative Assembly earlier this week, lawmaker Ella Lei used the recent Joe Hisaishi concerts as an example of poor event planning (the Studio Ghibli composer performed thrice at the Macau Cultural Centre). As the chosen venue could only hold a “small number of spectators,” most of the 68,000 people who entered a draw to get tickets wound up disappointed, she said.

[See more: Here’s what you need to know about Lionel Messi’s failure to play in Hong Kong]

Lei said that an international-level performer like Hisaishi clearly needed a bigger venue, a factor local event organisers should have considered.

She also critiqued organisers’ habit of staging multiple events at the same time, which snarled traffic. Lei said public transport needed to be increased when big functions were on, and should be event-goers’ primary mode of transportation. 

Finally, Lei said the city lacked budget-friendly accommodation for visitors coming to Macao for events. She noted that concert-goers and sports fans were often not interested in staying at the city’s plethora of five-star hotels.

Lawmaker Che Sai Wang, meanwhile, expressed concern that residents’ lives were being disrupted by the government’s focus on hosting major events. She urged the government to assess the balance it wanted to strike between economic gains and locals’ well-being.

Che suggested holding more rowdy events away from residential areas, and paying closer attention to the likes of noise regulations.

The staging of large-scale sporting, cultural and business events is one of Macao’s four emerging industries – considered key to its economic diversification plan along with healthcare, finance, technology.

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