Hong Kong cancels New Year's Eve fireworks after months of protests

Hong Kong cancels New Year's Eve fireworks after months of protests
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Hong Kong canceled its New Year’s Eve fireworks show Wednesday out of security concerns involving protests that have lasted more than six months, the Hong Kong Tourism Board announced.

This is the first time the fireworks show has been canceled. It typically brings crowds of thousands of people to Victoria Harbour and is prefaced by a worldwide countdown. Instead, the show will be replaced by a light show entitled “Symphony of Lights,” a statement from the board said.

The light show will feature projections on high-rises once the clocks turn to midnight, tourism officials said. The Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre will be transformed into a countdown clock, and small fireworks will be set off from rooftops.

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The tourism board “places high importance on public safety of all events it organizes,” it said in the emailed statement. 

“In view of the current situation in Hong Kong, we have decided to adopt a new format,” the statement said.

Hong Kong erupted into protests in June after a now-withdrawn bill was proposed allowing people to be extradited to mainland China. The protests, which have turned violent at times, have caused a dent in tourism and retail in the semi-autonomous city, as well as a recession for the first time in a decade in the third quarter, according to Reuters. 

Other high-profile events scheduled in the city have been canceled, including the upcoming Hong Kong Football Club Rugby Section’s rugby 10s tournament, which was set for April, and the music festival Clockenflap, which was canceled last month, the news wire reported.

Updated at 2:51 p.m.