THE president of the International Olympic Committee, Mr Juan Antonio Samaranch, was hopeful of improved relations between Britain and China over the return of Hongkong in 1997. But Mr Samaranch added that the issue would have no bearing on Beijing's bid to host the 2000 Olympic Games. ''We [the IOC] are concerned that relations between the Governor of Hongkong and China could be better,'' he said. ''But I think what is going on does not affect the bid of Beijing in any way.'' Beijing is one of six cities bidding to host the Olympic Games in seven years along with Sydney, Manchester, Berlin, Istanbul and Brasilia. Mr Samaranch was guest of honour at the opening ceremony of the East Asian Games. ''Beijing is a candidate just like the others,'' he said. ''In the IOC we have in mind that the People's Republic of China is an important member of the Olympic family.'' In his opening address, Mr Samaranch congratulated the organisers of the East Asian Games' opening ceremony. ''I can assure you that we were very, very impressed. The ceremony was wonderful and once again we had the feeling that Chinese sport is very important. ''The IOC know you can organise very well and we still remember the success of the Asian Games in Beijing in 1990.''