Senior officials from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have cautioned Beijing's Olympic organizers about potential challenges arising over the next two years.
"Obviously with less than two years to go, this is the time when traditionally the challenges will mount," said Hein Verbruggen, chairman of the IOC Co-ordination Commission (COCOM) of the Beijing Games, while attending the opening ceremony of the three-day seventh COCOM plenary session.
Nesting ground: International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge visits the construction site of the National Stadium yesterday. The 91,000-seat stadium, known as the "Bird's Nest" for its giant lattice work structure of metal girders, will host the opening and closing ceremonies and athletics events during the 2008 Games. "It is, in my opinion, one of the icons in the world," Rogge told reporters. [XINHUA]
Based on experience from organizing previous Games, Verbruggen outlined some potential challenges for the Beijing Organizing Committee (BOCOG).
They include the timely completion of all key buildings, the procurement of catering services, and the release of detailed venue designs.
In light of the last minute difficulties experienced by the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Verbruggen also advised BOCOG to keep integration in mind.
"We have heard recently how the organizers of the Turin Games had difficulty integrating all the pieces together, and that probably will be something that will happen in all organizing cities," Verbruggen said. "So please ensure great effort and make this work. Have the processes and procedures in place to ensure a good relationship between all places."
Verbruggen had high praise for the test sailing and softball events, which were held in the last two months, as well as the progress being made in venues construction.
"BOCOG has continued to make progress at such a rate it is praised not only by us, but also by the media as we have seen in August during the world broadcasters meeting and more recently in the written press," he said.
Attending the opening ceremony of COCOM, IOC President Jacques Rogge also gave Beijing's work a positive assessment.
At the same time, the president stressed that BOCOG must avoid complacency if it is to deliver a successful Olympics in 2008.
"Despite the great progress that BOCOG has so far been able to achieve, my experience throughout my Olympic career has been that it is extremely important not to take your eye off the ball, because it is often in the moments when you lose your focus that mistakes can creep in," Rogge said.
"We should all remember that the Games are not judged solely by the technical proficiency of the project, but also through the perception that the world has of the Games.
"We must therefore ensure that while all the technical elements are in place we do not forget to look after the less tangible elements that will ultimately shape the world's image of China and the Beijing Games."
Also yesterday, the Fifth World Forum on Sport, Olympic Education and Culture closed, with the unveiling of the "Beijing Declaration."
As released by the IOC, the declaration addresses the critical role of education and culture in bringing a meaning to sport and having an effective and positive contribution to promoting the harmonious development of young people's physical and psychological up-bringing and well being.