Hong Kong withdraws from esports competition after gaming programme omits ‘China’ from name of team

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Hong Kong withdraws from esports competition after gaming programme omits ‘China’ from name of team

Hong Kong has withdrawn from an esports tournament at the AFC Asian Cup after a computer programme for the event failed to include “China” as part of the city’s name, the Football Association of Hong Kong, China has announced.

AFC eAsian Cup. Photo: AFC Asian Cup YouTube screenshot.

The city pulled out of the AFC eAsian Cup in the Qatari capital of Doha after the organiser failed to fix the name display in Konami’s eFootball™ 2024 gaming programme, the association said in a statement on Thursday.

The local governing body of football said on Thursday it noticed on Monday that the game was not showing “Hong Kong, China” as the city’s name. The withdrawal came after the problem remained unresolved despite continuous negotiations with the organisers over the past few days.

“[B]ased on the guidelines and advice from the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China, we have informed AFC our decision to withdraw from the AFC eAsian Cup 2023,” the statement read.

A screenshot from the livestream of the AFC eAsian Cup showing Hong Kong as a contestant in Group C. Photo: AFC Asian Cup YouTube screenshot.
A screenshot from the livestream of the AFC eAsian Cup showing Hong Kong as a contestant in Group C on February2, 2023. Photo: AFC Asian Cup YouTube screenshot.

Local media reported on Monday that the Hong Kong team was informed about the withdrawal three hours before the start of the competition.

Hong Kong was set to play against Iran and the United Arab Emirates in Group C at the inaugural esports tournament which began on Thursday. The organiser’s livestream on YouTube on Thursday showed that “Hong Kong, China” was still listed as a contestant.

YouTube video

The livestream also included an earlier interview with Hong Kong team coach Jay Wong. He said the team had rented a party room to practise and share tactics, and asked the local gaming community for tips on how perform better in a two-versus-two game.

The city competes under the name “Hong Kong, China” at international sporting tournaments, including the Olympic Games.

Hong Kong’s sports federation issued a series of guidelines in 2022 and 2023 after multiple national anthem blunders at international sporting events. The organisers of some events had played the 2019 protest song Glory to Hong Kong instead of China’s March of the Volunteers.

Athletes were told to boycott awards ceremonies if event organisers refused to let the team leader verify the Chinese national anthem or regional flags on site.

Hong Kong team coach Jay Wong. Photo: AFC Asian Cup YouTube screenshot.
Hong Kong team coach Jay Wong. Photo: AFC Asian Cup YouTube screenshot.

This year’s on-field AFC Asian Cup marked the first time the Hong Kong football team had reached the finals in 56 years. The team made a tearful exit last week after it lost all three matches in the group stage.

In September last year, Hong Kong won a silver medal in the esports event at the Hangzhou Asian Games, after the team lost to China in the game Dream Three Kingdoms 2. It was the first time for the quadrennial multisport event to include esports as a medal event.

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