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All Fences Cleared for Equestrian Event
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Hong Kong has formally entered into an agreement with Beijing to host the equestrian events of the 2008 Olympic Games.

The "Arrangement on Equestrian Competition of the Beijing Olympic Games" was signed by the Beijing Organizing Committee of the XXIX Olympiad Games (BOCOG) and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government yesterday in the host city.

The agreement outlines the basic principles for cooperation between Beijing and Hong Kong during the buildup to the event.

When Beijing signed the 'Host City Contract' with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) after winning the rights to host the 2008 Games, the decision makers didn't select Hong Kong as a co-host. 

"This arrangement stipulates that the items in the 'Host City Contract' should also be applicable in Hong Kong," said Patrick Ho, secretary of the Home Affairs Bureau of Hong Kong SAR and also executive vice president of the Equestrian Committee (Hong Kong).

"After a series of discussions with BOCOG, the arrangement will also take into consideration the special conditions in Hong Kong and some of the principles were adjusted," Ho added.

According to Ho, the basis of the arrangements includes setting up a quarantine system that meets international standards, guaranteeing safety and making it convenient to enter the region.

With the approval of the IOC and International Equestrian Federation (IEF), it was announced last July that the equestrian events would be held in Hong Kong. The Equestrian Committee (Hong Kong) was established on October 5, 2005.

"Although time is pressing concerning venues and infrastructure construction, we're confident in fulfilling our commitment to hosting a successful group of Olympic equestrian events," said Ho.

According to Ho, preparatory work in Hong Kong is well under way. Shatin Equestrian Center, the main arena located at Hong Kong Sports Institute, is under construction and work on a cross-country venue in Beas River Country is about to start.

The competition schedule has been agreed and plans for judges, veterinarians, quarantine arrangements, transportation and insurance have been confirmed.

Olympic equestrian events, which will run from August 9 to 20 in 2008, comprise three disciplines--dressage, show jumping and eventing. They'll involve up to 220 horses. Six sets of medals will be fought for in all the three events, which are both individual and team competitions. 

(China Daily September 1, 2006)

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