Former Olympic gold medallist Lee Lai-shan yesterday led Hong Kong's elite athletes in demanding a bigger say in the development of sports policy. The Hong Kong Elite Athletes Association slammed the government for neglecting the interests of athletes whenever important decisions were taken. The association broke its silence after being told the elite athletes would have to leave the Sports Institute if Hong Kong was awarded the equestrian events of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. 'We are extremely disappointed by the way things are being handled, in particular the proposed relocation exercise of the Hong Kong Sports Institute (HKSI) which has been the home of Hong Kong's elite athletes for the past 20 years,' said Lee. 'As athletes and the end-users we have hardly been consulted in the entire process. Athletes have contributed a lot to sports in Hong Kong, but unfortunately our views have never been taken and considered by the authority,' she said. More than 40 elite athletes, dressed in black T-shirts emblazoned with the words 'Is there a future for Hong Kong sport?', turned up at a press conference to show their disillusionment. In a statement to Secretary for Home Affairs Patrick Ho Chi-ping, they said: 'Hong Kong's elite athletes feel extremely disappointed by being ignored by the government in matters directly relating to elite sport in Hong Kong. We are disappointed to see no signs of a long-term vision, nor any concrete plan for the development of sport in Hong Kong.' The group said the last straw was the government's proposal to close down the elite training centre at Sha Tin to make room for the equestrian events if Hong Kong was given the green light by the International Olympic Committee at its meeting on July 6. The elite training centre would be relocated to an inferior public facility. Athletes claimed such a move would cause serious disruption to their training and preparation for the Beijing Games and other major events. 'We are not opposing the equestrian events being held in Hong Kong but to sacrifice the chances and performances of our own athletes who have trained to compete in the Beijing Olympics is not acceptable,' said Malina Ngai, the vice-chairman of the association. The association made three requests: The HKSI should be relocated to a permanent, centralised and international-standard facility; A long-term sports policy to effectively allocate resources and promote sporting culture should be introduced; The government improves its transparency and communications with athletes through the elite athletes association. A spokesperson for the Home Affairs Bureau (HAB) said last night: 'Our primary objective is to minimise any disruption by working closely with the Sports Institute board, management, head coaches and athletes.' It is understood the HAB has already met 11 sports associations of the 13 under the HKSI's elite training programme to explore their training needs once the training centre in Sha Tin is closed.