Twelve-day extravaganza hailed as another feather in the cap for city 'We are so relieved to say the examination is over,' Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen said yesterday after the last medal event of the Olympic equestrian programme. The 12-day extravaganza, for which the city prepared for three years, proved to be another success following a string of large-scale international events the city had held. Over the past two weeks, the city received hundreds of athletes, their horses, thousands of officials, journalists and visitors from all over the world. A total of 155,000 spectators, most of them Hongkongers, enjoyed a taste of the Olympics at the competition venues in Sha Tin and Beas River. Despite various concerns before the Games, the city won applause from the athletes, officials and the audience for its high-quality facilities, smooth operation and organisation. 'Hong Kong has been great. The venue has been first class and everything from the footing to the stables has been superb,' said Joanie Morris, media officer for the United States team. The British team also gave the thumbs up to the facilities and organisation. 'Everything about these Games was fantastic,' British equestrian team spokeswoman Winnie Murphy said. 'We would have liked to have won a couple more medals, but that has nothing to do with the facilities, which were second to none. 'The riders say they have never experienced anything like it. We are very happy with Hong Kong.' Mr Tang attributed the success of the events to a combination of the right time, the right place and the right people. Hong Kong enjoyed fine weather and fairly good air quality almost all through the Games, with the last event finishing just the night before Typhoon Nuri struck. The world-class facilities, built at a cost of HK$1.2 billion, were deemed by many teams as the best in all the Games. About 4,000 police officers were deployed and 18,000 volunteers were recruited. Lam Woon-kwong, chief executive officer of the Hong Kong Equestrian Company, said getting everything ready before the event was the key to success. 'For example, we had 44 contingency plans to deal with all kinds of situations, although the whole operation in reality was very smooth,' he said. Mr Lam said the spectators' good behaviour and enthusiasm impressed overseas guests. The only incidents inside the venue were when several activists tried to demonstrate with Tibetan flags and chanted slogans. He admitted to complaints from spectators and athletes and said those had been addressed. 'There were people complaining about the water fountains in the venues, while some were not happy with the long queues outside the gift shop,' he said. 'Some athletes believed the security checks were too tight. But they all showed understanding after we explained [our position] to them.' Every member of the organising team was very happy and 'we will just keep up our good work for the upcoming Paralympic events'.