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Preparations for the Olympic Games go smoothly

Updated: 2007-08-06 15:19

BOCOG is committed to hosting a high-level Olympic Games with distinguishing features. This is also a common aspiration of the Chinese government, who has given strong support from various agencies and departments, and people from various cross-sections of Chinese society. On several occasions, President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and other state leaders have reiterated the Chinese government's support for these preparations and have put forward specific goals for the Games.

With the full support of the Chinese government and people, all the preparations are on schedule and proceeding smoothly.

First, construction of the Olympic venues and related facilities is accelerating. During the Beijing Olympic Games, we will use 37 competition venues and 56 training venues. Our co-host cities have completed the Qinghuangdao Olympic Sports Center Stadium, the Shenyang Olympic Sports Center Stadium, and the Hong Kong Equestrian venue. The main structures of the 12 new venues, which include the National Stadium and the National Aquatics Center, are complete and the relevant fixtures and equipment are being installed now. The renovation and expansion of 11 existing venues and the construction of 8 temporary venues are underway as scheduled. The Fengtai Softball Field is fully operational. All competition venues will be completed before the end of this year, except for the National Stadium, which will finish in early 2008 due to items related to the Opening Ceremony. Of the 5 Games-related facilities under construction, the National Convention Center, the Olympic Village and the Digital Beijing Building will be completed before the end of this year. The Media Village and the Olympic Forest Park will be finished in March and April 2008. In terms of city-wide infrastructure projects, the airport's expansion will be completed in May 2008. The airport line of the city's metro system will be completed July 2008. Construction of Subway Line No 10 and the Olympic Line will finish June 2008, and Subway Line No 5 will finish September 2007.

We have also increased efforts on Games organization and are making progress on preparations for the Paralympic Games. The 2008 Games will feature 28 sports, 38 disciplines and 302 events. The IOC has approved the competition schedule by day and by session and the competition managers for all 28 sports have been appointed. Beijing is finalizing preparations for all 26 events of "Good Luck Beijing" this year. The Beijing Municipal Government, China's General Administration of Sports and BOCOG jointly established the Organizing Committee for "Good Luck Beijing" sports events and command center. Working teams for the 16 competition venues have been organized also, and equipment and facilities for each venue are being arranged. Registration for these events is nearly complete. The International Women's Football Tournament kicked off the "Good Luck Beijing" sports events in early July this year. This year's very first "Good Luck Beijing" sports event in Beijing ĘC the 2007 World Rowing Junior Championships ĘC will begin on August 8. The 2008 Paralympic Games will feature 20 sports and 471 events. We remain committed to our goal of "Concurrent preparation, Equal splendor" in preparing for the Paralympic Games. We have established an evaluation team for barrier-free facilities in the venues, and construction of barrier-free facilities in venues and the host cities are in full swing.

The creative plans for Opening and Closing Ceremonies will finish soon. We have established a working group comprised of Chinese and internationally-recognized directors, artists and experts for the ceremonies. As we add more staff for these two high-profile events, we will conduct relevant training. The artistic and technical plans are essentially completed, production and rehearsal will begin soon.

Preparations for the Olympic Torch Relay are in full swing. On April 26 this year, we unveiled the planned route for the Beijing Olympic Torch Relay and the torch design, and we are liaising with the overseas cities involved in the Relay and preparations. Work is also progressing well with the relay on the Chinese mainland. Local organizing committees for the Relay headed by local authorities in all provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions have been established. We began the selection process for torchbearers on June 23, and aim to finish at the end of October this year.

The Ticketing Program has met with great success in terms of sales and is proceeding smoothly. The Beijing Olympic Games adopted a policy of low ticket prices to ensure the Games are accessible to as many people as possible. The "Olympic Education Program for the Young" offers tickets to students at a special rate. A total of about 7 million tickets will be sold for the Beijing Olympic Games. Up to now, we have signed ticket sales agreements with 132 NOCs. We launched ticket sales to the general public on April 15 and by the end of June, we received more than 720,000 orders for 5.1 million tickets.

We have stepped up efforts to recruit and train volunteers. We will need 100,000 volunteers to serve the Beijing Olympic Games. Recruitment for volunteers during the Olympic and Paralympic Games are in full swing in 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions around China. Volunteer recruitment in Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan, as well as overseas is also underway. To date, we have received more than 560,000 applications for Games-time volunteers. We have started to recruit volunteers in 8 specialist areas including driving, media operations and security and developed associated training policies. Venue teams have also established relevant management and operation systems.

We have made progress in providing services to various stakeholder groups. To fulfill the bid commitments and facilitate the needs of media reporting on the Games, the State Council put into effect the Regulation on Reporting Activities in China by Foreign Journalists during the Beijing Olympic Games and the Preparatory Period on January 1 this year. Based on these regulations, BOCOG developed the Service Guide for Foreign Media Coverage of the Beijing Olympic Games and the Preparatory Period, which was released in May. On July 1, the Beijing Olympic Media Center launched "one-stop" services to provide media with fast and convenient assistance on applications and visits during the Beijing Olympic Games and preparatory period. We have signed agreements with 122 hotels to provide accommodations services for the Olympic Games, and we have identified the headquarters hotels for the Olympic and Paralympic Families. In addition, 21 hospitals have been identified to provide medical services for the Olympic Games.

Beijing's traffic and environment conditions continue to improve. Significant construction progress was made on the city's 5 rail lines. Priority has been given to develop the city's public transit system, which includes optimizing and coordinating 131 public transit lines, maximizing the use of the E-card system, and adopting a policy of low-price bus fares. As a result, traffic conditions in the city have improved. We have intensified efforts to provide a better environment under the concept of "Green Olympics," and as such, the quality of air, water and other resources continue to improve. In 2006, the number of good air quality days accounted for 66% of the year, compared to 17.6% in 2000. In the last 8 years, air quality continues to improve. The forest coverage reached 51 % in 2006. The city has started landscape engineering and building a river system, as well as renovated 55 sanitation centers to improve the city's overall image. To create a positive atmosphere for the Games, a nationwide campaign titled, "Welcoming the Olympics, Promoting Civility and Creating a Favorable Social Environment" was launched.

Finally, the preparations have in part stimulated Beijing's economic and social progress. In the first half of this year, the city's GDP grew by 12.1%, indicating a healthy and rapid pace of development. The conditions we outlined to host a successful Games are finally becoming a reality.

The Olympic Games are only one year away. In the upcoming year, we will continue adhering to the principles outlined by the government in these preparations, and advance efforts on all aspects. I hope you will remain enthusiastic in supporting and participating in these preparations. Together, we can make this Olympiad a high-level event with distinguishing features, contribute to the overall Olympic Movement, and ultimately, create a better, more harmonious world.