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Eager Guangzhou eyes 2010 Asian Games
By Qiu Quanlin (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-04-19 07:46

GUANGZHOU: When Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, announced on April 14 the withdrawal of its bid for the 2010 Asian Games, people here started to see new hope for the local bid for the Games.

A foreign visitor takes a picture before a billboard promoting Guangzhou's bid for the 2010 Asian Games. [newsphoto/file]
This was stirred by the arrival in the city, the capital of South China's Guangdong Province, of the five-member Evaluation Committee of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) to inspect venues and assess preparations for the games.

But officials from the OCA said Kuala Lumpur's withdrawal does not mean that Guangzhou would automatically be the bid winner and that Guangzhou should not slack off in its preparation for the bid.

Sheiki Abdul Ghani Tabbalat, member of the OCA evaluation committee pointed out that following the other three cities' withdrawal of their bids, the biggest hurdle for Guangzhou is now itself.

"Only when Guangzhou succeeds in showing its full potential can it expect to get the bid and host a successful games," he said.

Early this month, cities in the Republic of Korea and Jordan also withdrew their bids for the 2010 Asian Games.

Kuala Lumpur's withdrawal was announced after the OCA's evaluation committee inspected the city's preparations for the games.

The Malaysian Sports Minister said the estimated US$366 million cost to host the Games was too much.

Local residents believe the other three city's withdrawal of their bids has made Guangzhou's odds better.

During its three-day visit in the city, the evaluation committee inspected various facilities , including sports venues, a disease monitoring centre, and 110 emergency systems, as well as cultural sites, all in an effort to evaluate the city's capacity and ability to host the games.

Ceslo Dayrit, vice-president of OCA, said members of the evaluation committee are impressed with Guangzhou's plans, preparations and presentation for the bid and they will be fully satisfied with the sports facilities in the city if they are built as specified in their presentation.

"We are also deeply impressed by Guangzhou's potential for future growth and look forward to seeing such growth," Dayrit said at a press conference co-hosted by the evaluation committee and the Guangzhou 2010 Asian Games Bid Committee.

"The people in this city have impressed us most with their warmth, humility and co-operativeness, all things which will help ensure the success of the 2010 Asian Games," he said.

When asked how they felt about the withdrawal of the Kuala Lumpur bid, Dayrit said that although they found the city capable of hosting the games during the evaluation, there was an essential factor lacking in the bid presentation: the government's guarantee.

Dayrit said there are two aspects of qualification for the bid.

"One is that the transportation, security, medical, and other facilities be in line with the expectations of OCA, and the other is the government's guarantee backing the bid," he said.

Local residents' confidence lies not only in the withdrawal of the other three competitors, but the city's strong experience and ability in hosting such international games.

A city with a long sports tradition, Guangzhou has already hosted many national and international sports events.

Guangzhou has a long association with sports, and many sports were introduced to the Chinese mainland through Guangzhou in earlier times.

If its bid for the 2010 Asian Games succeeds, the city will add up to six games (martial arts, golf, Chinese chess and others), all of which are enjoyed by Asian sports fans. This will push the total number of sports in the Asian Games to 33.

In addition, the city will add two to three sports for the disabled to satisfy requirements raised by the OCA.

The number of people involved in sports in the city has reached 42 per cent of the total population, which puts it in the league of major cities in medium-developed countries.

Guangzhou also has more than 10,000 sports facilities, including more than 50 advanced stadiums and gymnasiums, including the Olympic Sports Centre, Tianhe Sports Centre and the New Guangzhou Gymnasium.

With sports facilities covering a total area of 20 million square metres, Guangzhou has the capacity to host the Asian Games.

According to a public survey, more than 90 per cent of local residents know about the city's bid, and about 90 per cent of them support it.

The same survey also shows that 86 per cent of city residents are confident about the city's capacity and ability to host the Asian Games.

The city also issued 50,000 bid posters with different designs, featuring the slogans: "Co-operation, Competition and Development," "Invigorating Asia, Inspiring the World" and the organizing standard "Wholesome and Exciting; Green and Clean."

Public support

Before the OCA evaluation committee's arrival, thousands of city residents were leading various mass campaigns in the downtown streets to back the bid.

In the main streets, long lines of residents queued up, ranging from youngsters to 80-year-olds, to join in a signature collection campaign backing the city's bid. They were joined by 14 Chinese Olympic champions whose home towns are near.

The OCA evaluation committee members also joined the campaign when they kicked off their inspection here.

Other mass campaigns, from hikes to tours, were also launched to raise residents' awareness of Guangzhou's brightened hopes of achieving new heights of regional fame.

The Guangzhou 2010 Asian Games Bid Committee, encouraged and inspired by the positive evaluation of OCA, will seriously deal with the questions and suggestions that the members have put forward, and carry out a series of measures to improve areas of concern among members of the evaluation team aspects, said Xu Deli, vice- governor of Guangdong Province.

"No matter whether Kuala Lumpur is in the competition or not, we will depend on our own ability and conditions to win the approval of OCA and other nations in Asia," Xu said.

Guangzhou also has the capability and willingness to observe the rules and regulations of OCA, which is one of the standards that a city must meet to bid for the games, added Zhang Guangning, mayor of Guangzhou.

He added that although the evaluation tour has concluded, the city's work for the games bid is far from finished.

If Guangzhou succeeds in its bid for the Games, the city will invest 6 billion yuan (US$725.5 million) in sports facilities development, according to the city's bid committee.

The city will build 10 competition venues and refurbish or rebuild some existing stadiums.

The Asian Games Village, as planned at the outset by the municipal government, is designed to offer all delegations a secure and comfortable living environment with its various facilities and services, such as accommodation, dining, entertainment, a hospital, finance services, and sports facilities.

The village will be connected to the outside world through digital network systems.

The village, which will cover 120 hectares, has a budget of 1.6 billion yuan (US$193 million) and will be completed by 2010.

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