The Hong Kong Government has given its assurance that the SAR's elite athletes will be fully taken care of during the temporary relocation of the Sports Institute from Sha Tin - if the equestrian events at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing are moved here. Patrick Ho Chi-ping, Secretary for Home Affairs, yesterday guaranteed that his department would work closely with the sporting community to come up with a 'comprehensive re-provisioning plan' in the event the International Olympic Committee approving the Beijing Olympic organisers' request to move the equestrian events to Hong Kong. 'We are full aware of the potential disruption that may cause to the Sports Institute due to its temporary relocation. The government will do its best to ensure that the training needs of our elite athletes are well taken care of during the relocation period,' said Ho. It is understood that newly appointed chairman of the SI, Eric Li Ka-cheung, has already had initial talks with the Jockey Club and government officials in order to sort out a win-win situation for all parties involved. The 13 sports at the elite academy are up in arms at a proposal to relocate the SI to Tsuen Wan - to a holiday camp run by the Leisure and Cultural Service Department in Tso Kung Tam. After a site visit, one senior official described the venue as a 'grotty old place'. Ho, yesterday, assured that the relocation plan would be looked into again. 'We are fully committed to working with head coaches, the NSAs [sports associations] and athletes on a comprehensive re-provisioning plan. We have already started dialogue with the SI and will continue our discussions with them,' he said. It is believed that a decision will be made soon on whether Hong Kong will get the Olympic equestrian events - three disciplines of dressage, show-jumping and cross country. Beijing wants it to be held here as they have said it would be difficult for them to establish an equine disease-free zone around the capital. Together with the Jockey Club, the government has come up with a plan to hold the events in and around Sha Tin with the Sports Institute - which would close on January 1, 2007 - taking the bulk of the responsibility as it will be the venue for the dressage and show-jumping. It is planned to build a temporary 20,000-seater stadium and an air-conditioned indoor riding hall plus media facilities. The Jockey Club has said it will take over permanently the golf driving range and the two soccer grass pitches at the SI, but would return the rest of the SI fully refurbished after the Olympics. 'The core equestrian competition venue consists of Sha Tin racecourse, Penfold Park and the SI. The combination of these sites is the only option that will allow adaptive use of existing facilities,' said Ho. 'This creative model will meet the IOC requirements for cost-effectiveness and leave a high legacy value after the event. Only by doing so can we avoid ending up with a white elephant that previous Olympic host cities had painfully inherited. 'This is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Hong Kong to actually take part in an Olympic Games. This is also the first Olympic Games to be held on Chinese soil, and it is an opportunity for us to showcase the best side of Hong Kong - as a world-class city and a hub for hosting international sporting events,' added Ho. While supporting Hong Kong's involvement with the Beijing Olympics, sports officials have hit out at the relocation plan. They have asked if any other country would disrupt its national athletic programme and move its athletes out its established venue. 'Do you think the Australian government would move athletes out of the Australian Institute of Sports and have an Olympic event at that venue. Or for that matter, do you think the mainland Chinese authorities would disrupt the build-up of their own athletes before the 2008 Games?' asked one official. 'The Jockey Club should think of building a temporary venue elsewhere and leave the SI alone,' he said. Meanwhile, support staff at the SI also had worries over their job security as they fear some operations might not be needed once the SI headquarters had moved to Tso Kun Tam. But Ho yesterday said there were no plans to cut staff. 'We expect all staff to stay on their job and continue to serve the SI.'