presented by Gaitpost Magazine

Monday, March 10, 2008

Hong Kong: Talky Talky

You are reading these first two blogs well past the fact, due to the internet at our hotel being down. They have promised it will be operational by some time tomorrow, so don’t be surprised if you see three days’ worth of blogs at once. Today was word-packed rather than action-packed – on and off the shuttle bus to meet all the important heads of the various bodies involved in the logistics and promotion of the equestrian events. I managed to get some clarity on why people aren’t able to buy tickets to any of the equestrian – apparently Olympic tickets are dished out to each NOC (that is the committee responsible in each country) so availability and ease of purchase varies from one country to the next. I wasn’t alone in saying that unless tickets become more the games will be.

One topic on the mind of all the organizers we met yesterday was the withdrawal of Silvia Ikle which precipitated the subsequent announcement that Switzerland would not be sending a dressage team to Hong Kong. It seems to have stung the folks here quite hard, though several of us mentioned that Silvia has also backed out of two World Cups, because she doesn’t want to fly her horse. A young Swiss journalist in our group said that the Swiss are in two camps over the withdrawal: some people think Silvia is courageous to put her horses first, and others think she is selfish. I have to go back and read through her official announcement on the web (when the internet is back up!), but I’m pretty sure she didn’t really say it was Hong Kong’s heat that governed her decision anyway – it was the concern over the stress of travel.

Had confirmation that although Hong Kong will not have official opening ceremonies (that is for Beijing to do, since it is the real host city), there will be celebrations of some kind. Knowing Hong Kong and its love of fireworks, I expect pyrotechnics will play a part. We also saw an ad promoting equestrian events that starred Jackie Chan riding a horse. I’m looking forward to seeing the venue tomorrow, and all the space aged technology that is going into making sure the horses are comfortable despite the heat and humidity. Mr. Timothy Fok, the president of the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong said with a smile to us: “There is more going into ensuring the well being of the horses than of us” (meaning the humans of course).

No comments: