Fears over congestion behind decision to base pre-games camp in Macau Fear of logistical nightmares arising from Hong Kong's worsening traffic drove Britain to choose Macau ahead of its former colony as their pre-games preparation base next year. It was announced this week that the 280 British medal hopefuls will spend the three weeks leading up to the start of the games on August 8, 2008, in Macau, making use of its new stadiums and other facilities. 'The decision to go to Macau to train had nothing to do with Hong Kong facilities. It has the technical [sports venue] ability, which, when taken individually, would have been OK,' said Bernie Cotton, British Olympic Association (BOA) Holding Camp director and co-performance director. But with rush hour ever lengthening, the British believed navigating athletes through their former colony's gridlock threw up a logistical nightmare. 'The proximity of Macau's sporting facilities to each other is a significant factor, and there is much less traffic between the athletes' hotel and training camps. It would have been incredibly difficult [in Hong Kong] to locate everybody properly,' said Cotton, who, along with other BOA chiefs, made several extensive visits to Hong Kong and has held meetings with Olympic officials since 2003. He said despite the BOA's wishes to train away from any Olympic venue, Hong Kong was initially the preferred option over other potential training camps which it looked at on the mainland, in Japan, Thailand and South Korea. 'Our inspections were very thorough, and Hong Kong was originally our first choice. But we found in Macau that the absolute maximum travel time between the hotel and sporting venues is 25 minutes. We couldn't achieve anything like that in Hong Kong's traffic jams,' he said. Athletes and support staff competing in 16 disciplines including archery, gymnastics, hockey, synchronised swimming and table tennis, will train in Macau. Other sports such as equestrian and cycling will be situated at undetermined locations. Hong Kong officials last night privately expressed disappointment, but a government statement said 'it respected' the British decision and that the SAR remains 'an ideal place for teams to acclimatise'. But despite the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) creating and funding a special team since 2004 to run a promotional programme called 'Hong Kong - Ideal Training Base for 2008 Beijing Olympics', a major sporting powerhouse has yet to commit to sending its core athletes here to train. LCSD spokesman Chris Choy refused to be drawn on the effect of the loss of such publicity the BOA would have brought to HK as a major sporting hub, and instead was keen to highlight how the Swedish wrestling team had once used facilities for its 'pre-competition training'.