The head of the Hong Kong Rugby Union, Robbie McRobbie, said on Thursday that he doesn't think athletes will feel pressure about new rules on how to react when the national anthem isn't played correctly at events.
The new guidelines from the Hong Kong Sports Federation and Olympic Committee (SF&OC) were issued after a blunder at an Asian Rugby sevens game in South Korea earlier this month, when a song linked to the violent protests of 2019 was played in place of the national anthem.
The guidelines state that athletes and the team should call for an immediate correction if the national anthem isn't played properly, and should leave the competition venue if the mistake is not rectified.
Calling the rules reasonable and practical, McRobbie said they will be implemented this weekend when the Hong Kong team play in the Asian Rugby sevens series in Dubai.
"The athletes are understandably upset by what's happened," McRobbie told reporters after attending a meeting with government and SF&OC officials on the new rules.
"But they're determined to go out there this weekend to show that Hong Kong athletes and the rugby team are fully supportive of our city and fully respectful of the national anthem. They hope to demonstrate this by winning on the pitch."
The SF&OC's honorary secretary general, Ronnie Wong, said the meeting was constructive as it was attended by more than 300 member associations either in person or virtually.
He didn't say whether athletes were consulted during the drafting of the guidelines, but stressed the aim was to protect them from potential government funding withdrawal or sanctions.
"I think whatever guidelines we put out have got nothing to do with the athletes, because all the responsibility will be rested on the team leader," Wong said.
Ho Pui-sai, an honorary secretary of the Hong Kong Wushu Union, said it's right for athletes to walk out if there's a problem with the national anthem.
When asked if the hard work of athletes would go to waste if they had to stop competing, Ho said athletes shouldn't put their personal interests before the principles of the country.