Hong Kong's biggest charity walk cancelled as protests continue

Hong Kong (AFP) –


One of Hong Kong's best-known charity events was cancelled Wednesday, organisers confirmed, as a result of increasingly violent pro-democracy demonstrations in the city.

The 100-kilometre (62-mile) Oxfam Trailwalker, which stretches over the hills of the New Territories on the mainland side of the territory, had been due to go ahead on Friday, and usually draws around 5,000 competitors and their support teams.

But with demonstrations in the city showing no sign of stopping -- and with increasingly violent tactics being used by both police and protesters -- organisers made a last-minute decision to pull the event.

"In light of recent developments, transportation issues, in order to ensure the safety of over 10,000 participants, support teams and volunteers, and after much deliberation, we have made the extremely difficult decision of cancelling this year's Oxfam Trailwalker," they said on their website.

"The safety of our participants and volunteers is of utmost importance to us."

Organisers of the trail -- which usually takes between 12 to 48 hours to complete and costs HK$1,600 per four-person team -- said competitors who chose not to take part next year would be refunded, and that donations raised so far would be carried on for the 2020 event.

Each team was also expected to raise a minimum HK$7,600 in sponsorship for charity.

The Trailwalk is the latest high profile event to be axed because of the protests, joining the WTA Hong Kong Open women's tennis tournament, the US PGA's Tour's third tier Clearwater Bay Open in October, the Hong Kong Cyclothon, and the popular New World Harbour Race.