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IOC Speaks Up for HK Olympic Events

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) president showed his support for the decision to move equestrian events in the 2008 Games from Beijing to Hong Kong while on a three-day visit to the special administrative region yesterday.

Jacques Rogge tried to allay concerns about the events becoming isolated from the others and receiving less attention, and about potentially high temperatures.

"Don't worry about a lack of attention from the media and audience. Hong Kong is such a beautiful and attractive city and we will adopt special measures to help. I will come to Hong Kong during the Games," he said.

He added: "Air-conditioned stables will be used and the competition will be held during a part of the day when the temperature is appropriate."

The move of the events was announced by Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG) President Liu Qi at the 117th IOC Session in Singapore on July 8 after lengthy negotiations with the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI).

The FEI had opposed the organizing committee's plan to relocate, saying it would alienate the equestrian events from the rest of the Games, but BOCOG insisted it was necessary because of "major difficulties in establishing a disease-free zone" in Beijing.

"Quarantine facilities in Beijing are from the 1950s or 60s," Hao Gaozan, director of Beijing International Equestrian Training Base, had said when the decision to move cities was postponed by the IOC in April.

After last Friday's announcement, FEI President Infanta Dona Pilar said BOCOG had assured the federation they would provide the best conditions for horses and riders in Hong Kong, and that "this has always been our main objective."

BOCOG said it believed Hong Kong would enhance the competition and the excitement of the 2008 Games, adding that athletes, officials, media and spectators in Hong Kong will be an integral part of the Games.

(Xinhua News Agency, China Daily July 12, 2005)

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