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HK to ensure horses' comfort, safety during Olympics
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Beijing Olympics co-host city Hong Kong has made much effort to ensure the comfort and safety of horses during the upcoming equestrian event, a spokesman said in Beijing Wednesday.

Mark Pinkstone, a spokesman with the Equestrian Company organizing the Olympic events, told a press conference that Hong Kong had injected 1 billion yuan (147 million U.S. dollars) in the past two years to turn a dilapidated stadium in Sha Tin District into a top-class equestrian venue.

It could now house 18,000 spectators and provide brand-new stables for 228 horses, he said.

"The stables, measuring 3.6 m multiply 3.6 m, are all equipped with air conditioners and electric fans. They are even better than the ones in the Jockey Club. I can promise the horses will be fine," he said.

To further ease people's concern that Hong Kong's sub-tropical heat and humidity might harm horses, Pinkstone added that a test event last August involving international horses and riders had gone rather smoothly even under very extreme weather, including typhoon and heat.

After the test event, the horses were still in good condition and the trainers, riders and the National Olympic Committee were all very satisfied, he said.

However, the organizers have also made emergency plans in case of very bad weather, he said. "If it rains very hard and the horses' safety can't be guaranteed or the drainage system doesn't work, we might postpone the event for one or two hours. It all depends."

According to him, 90 percent of the equestrian event's tickets have been sold out so far.

The equestrian event will run from Aug. 9-21.

(Xinhua News Agency July 17, 2008)

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