The yearlong countdown to the 2008 Olympic Games was officially kicked off in host city Beijing with a ceremony at Tiananmen Square. More than 10,000 people attended the event, according to a statement released on the Games’ official Web site.

During the ceremony, the Chinese national flag, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) flag, and the flag of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games were brought in to join the flags of over 200 national Olympic committees onstage. The presidents of the Greek, Canadian, British, Russian, and Chinese National Olympic Committees accepted Beijing 2008 Olympic Games invitation letters from IOC President Jacques Rogge.

The opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics will take place at 8:00 p.m. on Aug. 8, 2008.

While the majority of Olympic events will be held in Beijing, the equestrian competition will take place in Hong Kong due to concerns about equine disease and quarantine on the mainland.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club completed all key venues for the 2008 Beijing Olympic and Paralympic equestrian test events in July. For more information on the equestrian venue for the 2008 Olympic Games see www.TheHorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=10116.  

The Club’s equine hospital facilities will be available for the Games, as will its equine transport fleet, and on-site racing laboratory. The lab tests Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) samples and has been the FEI’s sole reference lab in Asia since 2001.

For more information see www.equestrian2008.org.