What's the difference between the Dalai Lama, IOC president Jacques Rogge and a member of the Hong Kong Golf Club? Only two want the Beijing Olympics to go ahead. Just kidding. The Fanling golfing community is civic-minded and is totally backing the Olympic equestrian event. They might be a tad inconvenienced this summer, but what the heck, isn't it all for the glory of the motherland? For those lucky few having to navigate the man-made obstacles (cross-country fences) that will be sprouting like mushrooms after a rainstorm, then take a lesson from the Dalai Lama. Although Tibet is in turmoil, he remains stoic and calm. The exiled spiritual leader has always maintained a non-violent campaign for autonomy within China. The violent protests in Lhasa and neighbouring provinces have not made him change his mind. IOC president Rogge flatly rejects the call for a boycott of the Games, saying that it would only hurt innocent athletes all over the world. 'From the world of sports there has been absolutely no call for a boycott whatsoever . . . and none emanating from governments,' he said. Last weekend, Rogge said the IOC was 'concerned' about the situation, but declined to comment as more reports from Lhasa surfaced during the week. Rogge probably chants this in his sleep: 'The IOC is a sports organisation unwilling to pressure governments on their policies.' The Tibetan riots are the last thing the IOC needs. They bring back bad memories of Moscow 1980 and Los Angeles 1984, when successive boycotts hurt the Olympics. But a Beijing boycott will never happen. Hong Kong will heave a sigh of relief as they continue with minute preparations for staging an Olympic event for the first time. And the pace of these preparations went up a notch this week with the arrival of Giuseppe Della Chiesa and Michael Etherington-Smith. If you believe in providence, then suave Italian Chiesa has all the right connections to make the Olympic equestrian event a success - no, not the mafia. He has links to an even higher up and more powerful entity. Chiesa, one of the brains behind the Olympic cross-country course which is now taking shape in Fanling, comes from an illustrious family. His great-great grand uncle was Pope Benedict XV, who was the head of the Catholic Church during the first world war. 'Pope Benedict was the brother of my great-great grandfather. I'm also religious, a little bit,' laughs Chiesa, the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) technical delegate. If you ever needed family connections to smooth the way, then this is it for equestrian organisers who will need every bit of intervention this summer, spiritual or otherwise, as they look to the skies, wishing for the weather to be neither too hot nor rainy. If it becomes too hot, the course will be shortened. And heaven forbid if a typhoon comes this way as tropical storm Pabuk did last August during the test event. Luckily, it created few scheduling problems and was actually welcomed because it brought a drop in temperature. 'We can go up to 10 minutes [the length of the course], but if it is too hot, we can cut it by shortening a loop by one minute, two minutes or three minutes,' says Etherington-Smith, the course designer. The biggest concern is the welfare of the horses. The animals will have to jump 30 fences - minimum height of 1.2 metres - with a person on board. The quicker they can navigate the circuit, the better. There is room for 18,000 spectators. And Chiesa promises it will be a lifetime experience. 'I hope the Hong Kong public will turn up in numbers. My only message for them is 'be prepared to walk'. This is one of the few sporting events where the field of play will interact with the public stands and they are bound to have a good time,' he says. A good time is also bound to be had by all involved. Although they will be a long way from the action in Beijing, it seems the equestrian fraternity prefer horsing around in Hong Kong. This is a party town after all. The trek from Beas River to Lan Kwai Fong will be long, but that won't rein in the riding community. The athletes will be painting the town red in Beijing, too, now that the call for a boycott over Tibet has largely been ignored. Spielberg quitting over Darfur and now this crisis in Tibet are thorny political issues Beijing Olympic organisers could have done without. But it was bound to happen as the mainland's critics try to use the Games to put pressure on the Communist Party. Such moves to use sports as a tool might have worked with South Africa and apartheid. But China is a different story. They are too powerful an economy for the world to do without. Also, the only country which could lead a credible boycott, the United States, will never go down that road. The Americans remember how China refused to follow the Soviet Union call for a boycott by communist countries of the 1984 Los Angeles Games. This was a payback to the American-led boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games over the occupation of Afghanistan. China's participation in 1984 is one of the reasons why those Games were a financial success and turned the Olympics into a money-spinner. Peter Ueberroth, who was chairman of the US Olympic Committee then, said this week: 'Boycotts do one thing very well. They punish athletes.' The Dalai Lama has been quick to realise this. He knows a call for an Olympic boycott would not help his long-held dream of autonomy. It is up to the world's governments to encourage Beijing to rethink its ways. Just keep your hands off the Olympics.