Organisers say no withdrawals from equestrian events
The Swiss dressage team announced this month that it intended to stay away from the 2008 Games citing fears for the health of horses competing in the heat and humidity of Hong Kong.other Updated: Jan 29, 2008 12:54 IST
Beijing Olympic organisers said Tuesday they had received no notification of withdrawals from the Olympic equestrian events scheduled to take place in Hong Kong in August.
The Swiss dressage team announced this month that it intended to stay away from the 2008 Games citing fears for the health of horses competing in the heat and humidity of Hong Kong.
But the Beijing Olympic organising committee said that no teams had officially withdrawn and that it had full confidence in the former British colony to stage a safe and well-run event.
"We have heard of no team pulling out," said Li Zhanjun, media director for the organising committee. "There is no question of any withdrawals."
Beijing is staging most of the 28 Olympic sports. But the yachting will be held in the port city of Qingdao southeast of the capital and officials agreed to switch the equestrian event to Hong Kong over concerns of equine disease and quarantine complications on the mainland.
However several competing nations have expressed concern that the sweltering heat and humidity of Hong Kong could hurt their horses. Recently some Canadian and German riders reportedly said they were considering staying away.
But Yan Ligang, logistics director for the Olympic Games, reassured competitors that horses would be well looked after.
"I have heard that the horses are very expensive with price tags running from hundreds of thousands of dollars to millions of dollars per horse. And these horses are athletes too," he said. "So it is a very challenging job."
"But when it comes to equestrian competition, Hong Kong is highly developed and very experienced and we have full confidence in them," Yan told a press conference.
He said that altogether 225 horses had been entered for the equestrian events at the Olympics and 78 at the Paralympic equestrian competition which Hong Kong will also host.
The mounts will be picked up and transported by air to Hong Kong from six rallying points around the world by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Dutch cargo company Martinair.
Air-conditioned horse boxes would be waiting for them on arrival in Hong Kong, said Yan, to transport them to their air-conditioned stables.