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Switzerland Out of Olympic Equestrian Event

Organizers of this year's Olympics in China say they do not expect other equestrian teams to follow Switzerland in withdrawing from the competition because of heat, humidity and pollution at the Hong Kong venue.

The Swiss team pulled out of the Games after world number four rider Silvia Ikle said she was concerned about the health of her horse. Ikle competes in the precise discipline of dressage, and horses in that event are more sensitive to changes in weather.

Hong Kong Jockey Club officials say that every precaution has been taken to ensure the health of the horses competing at the 2008 Games.

Those measures include air conditioned barns, misting machines, and scheduling the events at night. Approximately 200 horses will take part in the equestrian competition August 9-20.

Hong Kong, which has a well-established equestrian circuit, was chosen to host the event because of an outbreak of equine diseases in mainland China. However, temperatures in Hong Kong can reach 35 Celsius with 90 percent humidity. Another ranked team will replace the Swiss in the Olympics.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP.