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IOC endorses 'frugal' Games campaign
By Yu Yilei (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-10-30 00:47

The International Olympic Committee has approved a money-saving campaign from Beijing Olympic organizers who are trying to host a "frugal Games'' in 2008.

The campaign is highlighted by a halt on construction at several Olympic venues including the main 100,000-seat Olympic stadium, which has been dubbed the "bird's nest" amid arguments that its design is too complicated.

"It is an excellent idea to make certain savings," Hein Verbruggen, president of the IOC's Co-ordination Commission for the 2008 Olympics, told a press conference in Beijing.

 "That is completely in line with what we want, too,'' he said.

Verbruggen is heading a 16-member co-ordination group holding a three-day meeting with the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2008 Olympic Games (BOCOG), reviewing the city's preparations for the 2008 Games in various areas including possible changes to venue construction plans for the sake of economy..

"The venues should not be white elephants," Verbruggen said.

The eye-catching design for the Olympic stadium had been put in doubt as constructions experts claim that the plan is difficult to realize and is expected to consume a massive 50,000 tons of iron and steel.

The Beijing organizers have stopped preparatory work on the stadium and say they will resume it with a new plan..

"A frugal Games, too, is completely in line with what we would like to

see," said Verbruggen.

The IOC has been working to reducing the costs of hosting the Olympic Games so that smaller countries will be able to become an Olympic host. In August, Greece, a relatively small country, successfully hosted the 2004 Games and its budget reached a record high.

The Beijing organizers said the "frugal Games" were not a spur of the moment idea..

"This isn't a topic that just came up now," said BOCOG vice-president Jiang Xiaoyu.  "The Chinese Government made a decision in 2001 to control the scale of the Games.''

However, the IOC rejects suggestions that Beijing's budget-cutting move might degrade its preparation for the games.

"Frugal Games are not a concern for us," said Verbruggen.

"If you ask me if there was any serious complaints we have, I really would not be able to think of any," Verbruggen said.

Changes are also expected to be made to five other venues. Beijing organizers are consulting with international sports federations to work out final decisions.

The decisions are "not to be expected before the end of this year," said Verbruggen. "We've been looking into details and we're very confident everything will be built and remodelled in accordance with the needs of the Olympic Games."

Beijing expects to spend about US$37 billion on the Games, including about US$2 billion on venues.

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