China's Olympic gold medalists were given a heroes welcome Friday when they arrived in Hong Kong for a three-day programme of sell-out events and celebrations, reported dpa.
The 100-strong delegation of athletes and medalists were met by Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang and more than 100 cheering schoolchildren.
The delegation includes gymnast Yang Wei and diver Guo Jing-Jing, who was quizzed by journalists on her arrival over rumours that she would be moving to Hong Kong.
A report in a Chinese newspaper claimed Guo, who won four gold medals at the Beijing Summer Games this month, is to marry a Hong Kong resident and would obtain her residency, allowing her to compete for Hong Kong in 2012 Olympic Games in London.
However, Guo declined to reveal her future plans. The move would give Hong Kong fresh hope for the next games, having only won two medals in the 12 games it has attended and returning empty-handed from Beijing.
Patriotic Hong Kong sports fans snapped up thousands of tickets to see China's medalists within hours of them going on sale last week. Many queued for hours to buy the tickets.
Critics have questioned the motive behind the visit, which comes one week before Hong Kong's Legislative Council elections on September 7 and at time when Tsang's popularity has reached an all-time low.
However, Thomas Chow, director of leisure and cultural services, denied the timing was politically motivated and said the athletes would have been invited regardless of the pending election.
Pro-China sentiment in the former British colony has risen steadily since it reverted to Chinese rule under a "one country, two systems" arrangement in 1997 and especially in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics.