Beijing 2008 Games' work ahead of schedule
While Athens is being criticized for delays in preparations for next month's Olympic Games, Beijing, the host to the 2008 Summer Games, has all of its preparations running ahead of schedule.
With more than four years to go to the 2008 Games, Beijing already has preparations well in hand. The Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG) has unveiled the emblem for the 2008 Games and Paralympics, has construction of four major Olympic venues under way, has launched public bidding for two more venues, and has selected banking and automobile partners as well as several other sponsors.
The first group of seven five-star hotels signed an Olympic Lodging Agreement with BOCOG in March to provide accommodation from August 8 to 24 during the 2008 Games. The Beijing Olympic Broadcasting Co Ltd (BOB) was established in May to ensure the successful broadcasting of the Beijing Games, and a global search for the mascot design for the Games was launched in May.
On July 14 this year, after "a thorough investigation and all-round evaluation," the Bank of China (BOC) signed a deal with BOCOG to act as official banking partner for the 2008 Olympics.
BOC, one of China's four major State-owned commercial banks, has committed itself to providing adequate financial and other forms of support to the 2008 Olympics and Paralympics, BOCOG, the Chinese Olympic Committee, as well as to Chinese sports delegations for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin and the 2008 Summer Olympics.
"It's another important step in Beijing' Olympic market development. I believe that the co-operation between BOC and BOCOG will play an important role in ensuring a successful Olympics," BOCOG Vice-President Jiang Xiaoyu said.
Germany's Volkswagen Group became the 2008 Olympics' automobile partner last month. As the first official automobile partner of BOCOG, Volkswagen will provide financial, automobile and other forms of support.
Half a month earlier, General Electric and Autos Origin announced they had become Worldwide Olympic Partners to provide products and services as well as information technology for the Beijing Games. And the domestic computer manufacturer Lenovo Group made Chinese history in March by becoming the country's first company to join the Olympic Partner Programme, or TOP.
Negotiations with potential Olympic partners in other fields are going smoothly and BOCOG is soon to unveil new partners, according to Jiang.
One day before BOCOG signed its deal with BOC, the emblem for the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games was unveiled in a grand ceremony at the China Millennium Monument.
The emblem of the 2008 Games was unveiled last August.
BOCOG then fired starters' pistol on the sponsorship race in the hope of covering the US$1.6 billion operational costs of the Games.
The lucrative marketing plan is composed of licensing, sponsorship and partnership programmes. Partnerships and sponsorships include four-year exclusive marketing rights, while the licensing programme authorizes companies to produce and sell products with the official Olympic emblem only after paying royalties to BOCOG.
After completing the conceptual designs and calling for public tenders for construction of four Olympic venues, Beijing embarked on a three-year construction project.
The scale and complexity of venue construction for the Beijing Games surpasses that of any previous Olympic Games, and the process of Olympic venue construction in Beijing has drawn great attention from the international media from its very outset.
Beijing kicked off construction of the National Stadium and the National Swimming Centre last December, broke ground for the shooting range and cycling velodrome, and also launched public bids two months ago for another two Olympic venues, the National Tennis Centre and the National Hockey Stadium, which will be located in Olympic Green in north Beijing.
During an inspection tour last February, a top inspector from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) praised Beijing for having done a "perfect" job in venue construction for the 2008 Olympic Games.
"We're extremely pleased to see how fast the work has been advanced," said Hein Verbruggen, chairman of the IOC's Co-ordination Commission for the 2008 Olympic Games, after inspecting the construction site of the National Stadium and the National Swimming Centre.
The Chinese capital has promised to finish construction of its sporting facilities for the 2008 Games at least a year ahead of time so test events can be held in 2007.