Horses for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and
Paralympics equestrian events
will be quarantined and then put through isolation before being allowed to
compete in Hong Kong, health officials said yesterday.
Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food York Chow said that in the
worst-case scenario of a disease breaking out, the events could be
postponed or cancelled altogether. The horses would be quarantined for
seven days before being flown into the city, the first time such an
arrangement has been agreed to.
More than 200 horses will be brought to Hong Kong for the Olympic Games
in August 2008, with another 60 to 80 are expected for the Paralympics the
next month. A rehearsal, with about 10 horses, will be held in 2007 to see
how effective the quarantine and isolation arrangements are.
Equestrian horses will be imported from several hubs via approved
quarantine stables, with details to be decided later. After their arrival,
the horses will be isolated for 10 days in stables in Sha Tin and areas
near River Beas. Each horse will have a separate stable to itself.
The Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad and
the Equestrian Committee (Hong Kong) of Beijing Organizing Committee for
the Games of the XXIX Olympiad have approved of Hong Kong's import
protocol, under which horses could be sent back if they didn't meet all
the requirements, Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department
Assistant Director Thomas Sit said.
Hong Kong had an advantage in quarantine matters because it was free of
major equine diseases, had the experience of holding horse races and had
established protocols with 17 countries or regions for the import of race
horses, officials and experts said.
Special equipment will be installed at Hong Kong International Airport
to receive the horses and transport them to the isolation stables. After
that, the horses will be taken care of by the Olympics Organizing
"Should a horse fall ill after arriving in Hong Kong, we will check
with the horse and the appointed veterinarians to see what kind of disease
or diseases it has been infected with... we will then determine the
necessary arrangements accordingly," Sit said.
Horses are required to be vaccinated against Equine Influenza, should
be free from clinical signs of or tested for Equine Piroplasmosis, Equine
Infectious Anaemia and Equine Viral Arteritis.
The protocol advises that horses be vaccinated against Japanese
Encephalitis, which is endemic in Hong Kong. They should be certified for
not showing clinical signs of African Horse Sickness, West Nile/Kunjin
Virus and Vesicular Stomatitis.
Each horse has to be accompanied with a passport issued by the
International Federation for Equestrian Sports for identification.
Hong Kong will start processing special permit applications for import
of horses six months before the Games. Deputy Secretary for Health,
Welfare and Food Eddy Chan said extra veterinary officers would be on duty
during the Olympics and Paralympics.
The city will liaise with World Organization for Animal Health's technical mission to conduct
site inspections and to assess biosecurity measures in Hong Kong, Sit said.
(China Daily HK