sharing the Olympic spirit
OLYMPICS/ Spotlight

Religious venues being built in Village
By Wu Jiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-03-06 07:08


Temporary religious venues will be set up for Protestants, Catholics, Buddhists and Muslims in the Olympic Village during the 2008 Beijing Games, a senior religious figure said on Wednesday.

"The Olympic organizers are earnestly preparing for religious services during the Games," said Chen Guangyuan, president of the Islamic Association of China.

"Everything will be in accordance with Olympic conventions," said Chen, also a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

Chen told China Daily that 10 imams speaking either Arabic or English will be available for the Games.

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The association is also helping the organizing committee prepare dishes tailor-made for Muslim athletes and delegation members.

Other religions in China have also prepared for religious services at the Games, said their leaders.

Liu Bainian, vice-president of the China Patriotic Catholic Association who is also a CPPCC member, said priests and nuns are being trained to speak English and French.

All Catholic churches in the 97 dioceses nationwide will celebrate a mass praying for a successful Games during the 100-day countdown, he said.

Liu, who suggested during last year's CPPCC meeting that hotels in Beijing provide Bibles for foreign visitors during the Games, said yesterday that "the organizing committee is considering the proposal".

He told China Daily earlier that all churches in Beijing would be open to Catholic tourists.

Beijing is expected to receive 500,000 to 550,000 overseas visitors during the Aug 8-24 Games.

The Chinese Christian society, besides training priests for the Games, has also called on all local churches outside Beijing to be prepared for overseas tourists and athletes.

"We know that some athletes will travel around the country after the Games, and our churches will cater to them," said Fu Xianwei, a CPPCC member who is also the chairman of the National Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee of the Protestant Church in China.

Religious services and information will be available in Beijing and each of the six co-host cities, according to the organizing committee of the Beijing Games.

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