The Secretary for Home Affairs, Dr. Patrick Ho, welcomed the International Olympic Committee's decision to name Hong Kong as the venue for the equestrian events at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The annnouncement came on June 8. Dr. Ho also thanked the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG) for its confidence in Hong Kong.
"I believe that Hong Kong people are taking a favorable and positive view towards this once-in-a-life-time event and sharing the joy of our country. The community at large also looks to the event to further promote the development of elite sports in Hong Kong, to enhance the vitality of the community and as a means to boost our economy."
He also said the government fully understood the concerns expressed by elite athletes and was committed to ensure that the daily training of the athletes would not be adversely affected due to the temporary reprovisioning of the Hong Kong Sports Institute (HKSI).
The Hong Kong Jockey Club will make use of the existing sites of Penfold Park and the HKSI to construct horse stables and equine quarantine facilities, as well as horse training grounds. The HKSI will also be used as the venue for staging two of the core equestrian events, namely dressage and show jumping. In addition, the Beas River Country Club and part of the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling will be used as the venue for the cross-country events.
Dr. Ho said the government would take this opportunity to enhance its support for the national sports associations of elite sports in terms of provision of training venues to further help develop their training programmes. He said the staging of this event would bring considerable economic benefits as it would attract to Hong Kong members of the Olympic family and of the equestrian sector and spectators, and the events would induce additional spending.
Dr. Ho said there could be wider benefits, mainly in enhancing the image of Hong Kong as an international sport and racing center and promoting Hong Kong's status as an international city. He also assured the community that the government would be working closely with all concerned parties to ensure the successful staging of the events.
The Chairman of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, Ronald Arculli, and the President of the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong (SF&OC), Timothy Fok, also applauded the announcement.
"The facilities to be built by the Hong Kong Jockey Club will be first class and will enable the Hong Kong government and BOCOG to stage an historic event," Arculli said.
Fok also said that Hong Kong would do everything it could to host the event in the best possible way. "While working hard to welcome the competition, we will also ensure that our own athletes continue to experience the best possible training conditions for their preparations for the Beijing Olympic Games."
Photo copyrighted: Cealy Tetley