New Year’s Eve midnight fireworks display, famously known for lighting up Hong Hong’s iconic skyline, has been canceled amid safety concerns.
After months of planning, the Hong Kong Tourism Board announced on Tuesday that it had made a last-minute decision to scrap the event and instead create a special New Year’s themed version of its daily light show.
It also said that a 4-million-dollar (5.1 million U.S. dollars) online lotto will be drawn at midnight to keep people interested in the countdown to 2020.
The decision to cancel the annual event, which attracts hundreds of thousands of New Year’s revelers, was made after organizers of Hong Kong’s protest rallies announced that a mass demonstration would be held to mark the first day of January.
Protests in the city turned violent again over the Christmas period, with riot police using pepper spray as protesters’ small gatherings in shopping malls snowballed into mass demonstrations.
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam issued what could be deemed a New Year’s video message on Tuesday.
In the reconciliatory-toned video Lam, alongside several other senior officials, talked about the challenges Hong Kong still faced, saying she was willing to humbly listen to the public and bring an end to the ongoing conflict.
The protests first broke out in June over a now-defunct extradition bill that would have allowed Hong Kong residents to be extradited to China, but the demands of the movement have grown to include universal suffrage and an independent inquiry into police violence against protesters.