Olympic security concerns suspend part of Beijing nightlife area

Updated: 2008-02-29 08:58

BEIJING -- Restaurants, bars and nightclubs in one of Beijing's main nightlife centers and celebrity hangouts are to be closed to help ensure security at an Olympic football venue, said authorities.

"About six restaurants and bars inside the Beijing Workers' Stadium compound will be

ordered to suspend operation for more than 20 days before and during the Olympic Games," said He Zhenxing, stadium vice manager.

The venues, popular among Beijing residents, would suffer lost business, but the order was issued to guarantee security for the Games, he said.

"The stadium will not pay compensation to them, but may extend their leases or give preferential treatment after the Olympic Games," he said.

Managers of the establishment said they had not received formal notification from the government, but said they would accept the order, although they felt "very unhappy" about it.

Most of the venues are still open, but some are carrying out renovations.

"More than 130 employees in my restaurant will be out of work during the suspension. If they don't return after the Games, I will have to hire new hands and start over again," said Zhang Youjing, manager of Youjingge Restaurant.

Zhang said his 700-square-meter restaurant had hosted celebrities, including David Beckham, Wayne Rooney and Jacky Chan, and took 20 million yuan (2.7 million U.S. Dollars) in sales in 2004 when it opened.

"I really don't know what it will look like after the Games," he said, "I'm not a threat to the Olympic Games and I cannot resist the official order by any means. I only wish myself good luck," he said.

The manager of Club Mix nightclub, surnamed Guo, said he would have no choice, but to obey the order. "We have almost 800 customers every night. More than 200 workers will stay at home on a minimum salaries during the closure."

"The club was closed for two months when the stadium was being renovated last year, and every worker here earned 600 yuan a month while staying at home. All of them returned," Guo said.

"The suspension during the Olympics would definitely hurt our profits, but I believe we can withstand that cost," said Guo.

An Outback Steakhouse restaurant is still open and the chain manager said he was not much worried about the suspension. "Dozens of colleagues and I will sit it out and I guess our salaries will not drop sharply," he said, without giving his name.

"If we need to pay a reasonable price for the Beijing Olympics, we are willing to do so," he said.

Almost a dozen sports shops under the stands have been closed and moved out of the stadium since 2006 when the venue started renovation.

"At first, I planned to sue the stadium because the profits dropped sharply during the renovation, but I gave up after my lawyer's mediation," said Wang Zhongdong, manager of a shop selling golf equipment. "For a successful Olympics, I'm prepared to make a contribution."

The stadium, which held the 2004 Asia Cup and four national games, will stage football during the Beijing Olympics. It covers 80,000 square meters with a holding capacity of 62,000 audiences.

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