Olympic officials: No change in Beijing's plans
Beijing Olympic organizers pledged Thursday that suspended building work on projects for the 2008 Games would soon be resumed.
"We are not making any big changes to the original plan," said Liu Jingmin, vice-mayor of Beijing and the executive president of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG) during the committee's first press conference in the host city of the 2004 Games.
"It's some minor changes due to the economic and feasibility evaluations we are doing right now."
The construction of a couple of main venues for the 2008 Games including the National Stadium which will host the opening, closing ceremonies and football finals, has halted, raising nationwide speculation that the original designs for the venues are too much for the organizers to handle.
The stadium dubbed the "Bird Nest" for its nest-like outlook, is jointly designed by Swiss company Herzog and de Meuron Architects and the China Design and Architecture Institute. But construction experts claim that the plan will be difficult to realize and is expected to consume a massive 50,000 tons of iron and steel.
Another stadium, the Wukesong Cultural and Sports Centre, which will host the Olympics basketball competition, also drew criticism from the experts who claimed what will be the world's biggest television screen, which will cover the entire surface of the stadium, would cause light pollution and make it hard for surrounding residents to sleep at night.
"The change will not influence the planned function or the outlook of the venues," Liu said.
Liu said the venue construction project has entered the phase of budget evaluations and feasibility studies and it is inevitable for every Olympic organizer to make slight changes to the original designs.
"There is a batch of experts working with us to do the evaluation, which we will announced the outcome of to the public soon," he said.
Liu cited the idea of hosting a "prudent" games was the main reason for the changes.
"We had promised during the bidding phase that we will have a prudent games and we are working for this.
"The evaluation of venue construction is one of the way in which we can be prudent," he said.
He is giving out three criteria to make changes.
"First we would like to know that if we can better use the existing resources.
"Then we need to find out if the design is up to the standard for hosting the Olympic Games and whether the venues are able to be better used after the games," he said.
Beijing is about to invest US$1.6 to US$2 billions on venue constructions, including 37 for competitions and 59 for training.
Liu said there is no change to the budget with the changes but stressed that the idea of being prudent will be one of the guidelines in the future.
"What we need are some down-to-earth preparations rather than luxurious expenses," he said.
Liu also revealed that the construction of the venues will be finished in 2007, rather than 2006, which was originally promised in the city's bid, which has also been the suggestion of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Co-ordination Commission during the IOC's 116th session here.
Up to now, seven of the 18 new venues are under construction and the designs for most of the other venues have been collected through international bids.