~from CWN...[let me ask this again: Whose bright idea was it to have a racetrack as the venue for WYD?]
Organizers for the World Youth Day (WYD) celebration remain locked in a dispute with the Australian racing officials over plans to use the Randwick race track as the site for a papal Mass.
WYD officials announced this week that they would only need to use the Randwick track for 3 days during the event, which will be held in July 2008. But racing officials argue that the WYD organizers are underestimating the difficulties involved in closing down stables where 700 horses are kept and regularly exercised. The Randwick management is also concerned about the damage that may be done to the race course by the 500,000 people expected to attend the WYD celebration.
Racing officials were caught by surprise when WYD organizers said they would only need the track for a 3-day period; previous reports had suggested that the track could be closed for as long as 10 weeks. Horse owners and trailers are asking for compensation for millions of dollars in lost revenues and expenses incurred in moving their horses to other locations.
Peter V'Landys, the head of Racing New South Wales, told an ABC radio audience that WYD officials had failed to take into account the difficulties involved in keeping the track open while preparations for WYD are being made. Construction of an altar for the papal Mass and installation of security systems for the crowd would interfere with regular racing operations, he said.
V'Landys said that the latest WYD proposal was an "uninformed announcement," and Church officials would have to reconsider their plans.