The government is looking at revising its quarantine
requirements after some of the world's top riding countries
threatened not to send their best horses for the 2008 Olympic
events in Hong Kong.
The US and German equestrian federations have voiced their
discontent at measures introduced by the SAR authorities relating
to the import of horses for the games. The requirements could mean
a horse spends almost a month away from home. Horse owners are
reluctant to have their charges sidelined from other competitions
for so long.
According to the import protocol announced by the government's
Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department in March,
competing horses will be imported via quarantine stables located at
several designated transportation hubs around the world.
They will be required to undergo a period of seven days
pre-export isolation in these overseas quarantine stables and 10
days of post-arrival isolation in Hong Kong. The quarantine period
is already shorter than that for the Sydney Games in 2000, which
had 14 days prior to the departure from their respective countries
and another 14-day post-arrival period.
In announcing the regulations in March, the government stated:
"To ensure that exotic diseases of concern are not introduced by
the imported equestrian horses to Hong Kong's equine population and
to prevent the spread of diseases between competing horses in the
events, all imported equestrian horses will be inspected and
quarantined and should show no clinical signs of diseases, and
undergo relevant tests and vaccinations before entering Hong
However, according to the rules of the FEI, the sport's world
governing body, the exact period would be much longer because the
horses would need to spend time traveling to Hong Kong and the 10
days of post-arrival isolation would not be counted until the last
contingent of horses reached Hong Kong.
FEI has stipulated that they would not allow more than 50 horses
to arrive in Hong Kong each day. With 250 horses in the
competitions, at least another five days will be added to the
post-arrival isolation ahead of a two-week competition period. That
makes almost one month for the horses to say outside their home
At the 2008 Olympic Games Equestrian Events Committee meeting
held in Hong Kong last week, there were some heated exchanges on
whether the quarantine period should be reduced. Pang Chung,
honorary secretary general of the Sports Federation and Olympic
Committee of Hong Kong and a member of the equestrian committee,
said as far as he understood, the government had agreed to review
the quarantine period because of the strong opposition.
Chaired by Chief Secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan, the committee will
consider revising the 10-day post-arrival period.
Quarantine arrangements have often been a problem for Olympic
equestrian events. In the most notorious case, the competition was
moved to Sweden's capital Stockholm from Australia when the
Melbourne Olympic Games organisers posted a six-month quarantine
period in 1956.
(South China Morning Post May 26, 2006)