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IOC Delays Decision on Moving ’08 Events

April 19, 2005

BERLIN (AP) _ The IOC postponed a decision on Beijing’s proposal to move the equestrian events at the 2008 Olympics to Hong Kong _ more 1,240 miles from the host city.

The International Olympic Committee said it needed more time to study the issue. Hein Verbruggen, head of the IOC coordination commission for the Beijing Games, will talk with all sides to try to reach an agreement.

Beijing organizers cited the risk of equine diseases and quarantine problems in the Chinese capital.

The International Equestrian Federation opposed the switch, saying it would have ``very grave″ repercussions for the sport.

Wang Wei, secretary general of the Beijing committee (BOCOG), made the formal proposal to the IOC executive board. The board also heard from a high-ranking delegation of the international federation.

``The executive board will talk further to BOCOG to see if this disease issue is really insurmountable or if a solution can be found,″ IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said.

No timeframe has been, set but a decision will be made probably this summer, Davies said.

Hong Kong, which reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997, is a 3 1/2-hour flight from Beijing.

The equestrian competition was originally scheduled for the Beijing Country Equestrian Park in northern Beijing _ 21 miles from the Olympic Village.

Wei said last week that moving the events was necessary because of ``uncertainties of equine diseases and major difficulties in establishing a disease-free zone.″

Wang said 17 equine diseases are prevalent in Beijing and other mainland Chinese cities.

When Melbourne hosted the 1956 Olympics, equestrian events were held in Sweden because of quarantine restrictions in Australia.

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