China levels mountain for equestrian facility

April 16, 2009

China is preparing to host its first international equestrian event, and authorities say they have levelled off a mountain to build the facility.

China will host the 16th Asian Games in November next year and will therefore play host to the nation's first international equestrian competition.

While equestrian events were part of last year's Beijing Olympics, all equestrian events were held in Hong Kong because of disease concerns in sending horses into mainland China.

China says the new equestrian facility for the Asian Games is literally rising from the dust, more than 40km northeast of downtown Guangzhou.

"Engineers have levelled off a mountain and are constructing the facility from scratch," a spokesman for the games said. "The grandstand is completed as well as staff offices."

The equestrian events are expected to attract about 200 horses from nearly 20 countries.

Zeng Qingchun, a leading member for the Asian Games equestrian preparation team, said all horses attending the games in China will be quarantined in advance of the event.

This was to protect not only China from potential disease incursion, but also participating horses, he said.

"We will work out a draft horse quarantine plan by July, and ask relevant international organisations such as International Equestrian Federation (FEI) for suggestions," said Zeng, adding that a Disease Free Zone would be developed ahead of the event.

"All horses will be under strict inspection as soon as they land on the mainland," said Zhou Zhongfang, an official from the Guangdong Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau, who added all horses will be kept within designated areas.

The treatment of animals at the 16th Asian Games will follow all regulatory provisions, the quarantine will guarantee the smooth operations of the games and will, according to Zeng, "allow the safe return all horses to their home countries and regions in light of immigration quarantine policies".

The 16th Asian Games is approved and governed by the Olympic Council of Asia and will be held in Guangzhou from November 12-27, 2010.

More than 14,000 athletes from 45 countries and regions will compete in 42 sports.

More than 10,000 accredited and non-accredited worldwide media are anticipated to cover the games with more than three million spectators expected to attend.