Police have warned the organisers of a running activity that they may bear legal responsibilities should their events exceed 30 people.
The police told the organiser of a local running group Longrun.hk, who gave his name as Alan, that he will have to apply for a letter of no objection for public training sessions. They said organisers must explain the details of their events including the time, route and location for their meals after the running session, according to an Apple Daily report on Saturday.
A written application must be made seven days beforehand and submitted to the police in person for any public march exceeding 30 people, the police told him. Alan told the newspaper that the group had organised a 200-people run last year and proactively applied for a letter of no objection, but the police told him verbally that they were not interested in regulating sports events.
In response, Neo Democrats lawmaker Gary Fan called for a running activity on Monday night from the Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground to Tseung Kwan O police station to submit a petition letter.
Fan said his party colleague Henry Chun has been organising long run training sessions since January: “The practice of the police is ridiculous – running training is neither a rally nor a march,” Fan said on social media on Sunday. “Is it aimed at suppressing fitness events conducted by residents?”
Fan said on Monday that he received a “warm reminder” from a police community relations officer stating that he may have to bear legal responsibilities for a running activity if it exceeds 30 people.
“Since we stressed it would be a peaceful and rational run, we need to protect our runners,” Fan said. “If there are more than 30 runners joining, we will separate into two teams if necessary. We welcome the police to observe from the side or run with us.”
Around 20 showed up on the night.
At a press conference on Monday, Police Public Relations Branch Senior Superintendent Kong Wing-cheung said the requirements were stated in existing law: “We will only handle the relevant work within the existing legal framework,” he said.
Previously, police banned a ten-kilometre run in Tin Shui Wai scheduled for last Sunday, but overturned the ban later after the news was widely reported.
Fan is running in the Wan Hang constituency in the District Council election next month. Tai Cheuk-yin, Yeung Chung and Lau Chi-shing are also in the race. Chun is running in the Wai Yan constituency whilst Andrew Ng is also a contender.