City officials of Hong Kong were ecstatic with news that the special administrative region will host the Olympic equestrian events, saying the decision will be a boon to local economic activity and the development of elite sports in Hong Kong.
Community vitality will also be enhanced, said Secretary for Home Affairs Patrick Ho Chi-ping on Friday, adding that it is an honor for Hong Kong and its citizens to host the event.
"Hong Kong people welcome this once-in-a-lifetime event and are sharing the joy of the entire nation," he told a news conference.
He made his remarks after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided on Friday to move the event to the territory from Beijing at a meeting in Singapore, in response to the Beijing Olympic Committee's April suggestion that the equestrian events be moved to Hong Kong in fear of equine disease on the mainland.
Chief Executive Donald Tsang echoed the view that the decision is a great distinction for Hong Kong to share in the glory of hosting the Olympic Games for the first time in China.
"The equestrian events will be a milestone in Hong Kong's sporting history. The government will work closely with all parties concerned to ensure that we have a successful sporting spectacular in Hong Kong in 2008."
Ho stressed that the events will attract tens of thousands of people to Hong Kong, including tourists, spectators, athletes and journalists, culminating in tourist revenues of up to HK$300 million.
A government spokesman promised that Hong Kong will provide the best support services and venues for participating athletes and horses. According to him, the Sports Institute and Penfold Park in Sha Tin will be the main venues for staging the Olympic and Paralympic equestrian events. Meanwhile, the Jockey Club's Beas River Country Club and Golf Club in Fanling will be used for cross-country races.
Ho said the Sports Institute will be turned into a main venue for the events, with veterinary services to be provided by the Jockey Club.
"The Sports Institute and Penfold Park will house 230 additional stables, a competition arena with 20,000 seats and support facilities such as training and warm-up arenas, plus a media centre," he said.
(China Daily July 9, 2005)