'The government can order us to leave on one-month notice' New Hong Kong Sports Institute chairman Eric Li Ka-cheung said he was powerless to stop the government from taking over the elite training centre and turning it into an equestrian venue for the 2008 Olympic Games. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is considering Hong Kong as a venue for the equestrian events of the 2008 Beijing Games and Li said yesterday he would have to concede to the government once a decision was made - despite repeated pleas from elite athletes and coaches to reconsider. 'The SI is a delivery agent under the new sports administration system and executes decisions taken by the government by providing technical and professional input. 'Once Hong Kong has been confirmed as the host we have to evacuate the SI in accordance with the government's plans,' Li said during a radio programme yesterday. 'In fact, the government can order us to leave by giving us one month's notice in advance as the SI is on government land, but nobody wants to see that happen.' Li admitted most sports would be affected by the relocation, but cycling, rowing and triathlon could continue to use the facilities at the Sha Tin centre. Elite athletes, led by former Olympic gold medallist Lee Lai-shan, came out last week to express their concerns over the issue, saying any plan to close down the SI should not affect their preparations for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, 2009 East Asian Games in Hong Kong and the Guangzhou Asian Games the following year. Li said he fully understood athletes' concerns and expected the relocation to cause minimum disruption to the training programmes that lead up to these major events. 'There has been on-going discussion involving the government, Jockey Club and SI management. A lot of details have yet to be worked out because we are still not confirmed as the host. However, the SI would not accept anything but a win-win situation for all parties involved,' said Li, who was appointed chairman by the government in April. He said many head coaches had already been to site inspections for the interim arrangements. It was understood the early plan of using Tsao Kung Tam camp in Tsuen Wan as a temporary training base had been dropped because the coaches were not happy with the facilities. SI chiefs are now considering moving headquarters to the YMCA camp in Wu Kai Sha with public sports facilities across Sha Tin slated for elite training. The Jockey Club is providing all funding, estimated to be $1.2 billion, for the construction of venues for the equestrian events, including a revamp of the SI site for show jumping and dressage, and expenses for the relocation. 'When we move to temporary venues to make room for the equestrian events, we need facilities that are up to standard so it will not hamper athletes' training,' said Li. 'At the completion of the equestrian events, we should have improved facilities at the SI for our athletes.' The IOC will decide next month whether or not the equestrian events will be held here.