Swiss concerned about humidity for Olympic games
Hong Kong rejects Swiss claims that weather is too humid for Olympic horses.10 January 2008
HONG KONG - Hong Kong on Thursday rejected claims that its hot, humid weather is unsuitable for Olympic horses after the Swiss dressage team pulled out of the 2008 Summer Games because of fears over the well-being of its horses.
The Swiss Equestrian Federation said the decision was made after its highest ranking rider, Silvia Ikle, said she would not be taking her mount Salieri CH after consulting various veterinarians.
She said she had been advised that "the weather conditions could be dangerous for the health of horses."
Swiss dressage team chief Peter von Grebel followed suit, pulling out the entire team, saying the 11-hour flight to the former British colony was also a concern and could affect the horses' performance.
All the equestrian events at the 2008 Games are to take part in Hong Kong - a decision made by Olympic organisers because of concerns over equine disease and quarantine complications in China.
In preparation for the event, the Hong Kong Jockey Club has spent about USD 102 million upgrading facilities in Shatin and Beas River, where the events are to take place in August.
On Thursday, the government-owned company organising the Olympic preparations rejected the Swiss concerns, saying stringent measures would be in place to protect the 200 horses that were to take part in the six equestrian events.
A spokesman pointed out there were no problems during the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, which was staged in similar weather.
Hong Kong is about 3,000 kilometres south of Beijing and boasts a subtropical climate, which brings high temperatures and humidity, storms and even typhoons during the summer. Its average highs in August are 31 degrees.
[Copyright dpa 2008]
Subject: Swiss news