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Chinese national flag raised in Athens
Updated: 2004-08-09 21:29

China had its national flag raised at the athletes' village of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games before receiving blessing from former International Olympic Committee ( IOC) president Juan Antonio Samaranch.

"I hope the Chinese team will be very successful here in Athens, " Samaranch told reporters who besieged him during the flag raising ceremony of the Chinese Sports Delegation.

The Chinese national flag is hoisted at the Athens Olympic Games village August 9, 2004. More than 130 Chinese delegates, who have arrived in Athens yesterday, sing the national anthem during the flag raising ceremony. [Xinhua]
"I don't know (how many gold medals China will win at the Games) , but I think they will win a lot," the 83-year-old Spaniard added.

Entering the village right before the ceremony, Samaranch met Chinese athletes and officials before visiting the residents' zone.

"I am here to see the ceremony, and also to visit the village," said Samaranch.

"We did not know Mr. Samaranch would come, but we are very happy to see him here," said Xiao Tian, secretary general of the Chinese Sports Delegation.

"Mr. Samaranch has had a great friendship with China for many years, we hope he can come to Beijing in 2008," Xiao added.

Ioannis Manos, mayor of the Olympic Village, delivered a warm welcome speech to the Chinese delegation.

"I wish the 2008 Olympics in Beijing a great success," Manos said in Chinese.

China, who finished third at the medal tally of the Sydney Games four years ago with 28 golds, 16 silvers and 15 bronzes, will have 407 athletes participate in 203 events of 26 sports at the Athens Games.

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