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Int'l Regatta Sails into Qingdao
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The first "test event" for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games starts today in the eastern coastal city of Qingdao. The 2006 International Regatta features 302 boats, crewed by 466 sailors from 41 countries and regions.

The event is seen as an important international Olympic-class regatta, which will help Qingdao prepare for the 2008 Games when 11 sailing events in nine categories will be held in the city with 11 gold medals to be anchored.

Organizers said the Regatta sailing courses were designed as closely as possible to those of the 2008 Olympic races and all activities would be carried out following the Olympic standards.

The event is being held at Qingdao International Sailing Center. Covering 45 hectares on Fushan Bay the center is an environmentally-friendly leisure area for city residents and visitors as well as a competition venue.

"We have built this marina for all the Qingdao citizens rather than just the Olympic Games," said Li Fengli, deputy secretary-general of the Sailing Committee (Qingdao) of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG). "We've organized all kinds of activities to help spread awareness of sailing among the residents of the city."

In addition, the athletes and media centers and other land facilities associated with water sports including a floating dock are all ready for the Regatta.

"In order to ensure the smooth running of the event we've set up three operation centers under the organizing committee," said Li. "They're the city, games and security operational centers." 

"The Qingdao municipal government has worked out a complete city operational plan and a full rehearsal was completed at the end of July," Li added. "We've tested all the plans and have improved them to make the event perfect."

According to local media reports security measures have been strengthened in and around key areas.

There'll be more than 1,300 trained volunteers helping supervise the event. Some of them will be deployed in the competition area to provide assistance to athletes, officials and media. The others will work in more than 100 posts in transport hubs, tourist spots and other public areas across the city.

"To be able to prepare for the 2008 Olympic sailing events is an important opportunity for our city," said Zang Aimin, vice mayor of Qingdao. "We see it as an opportunity to accelerate the development of the city and improve the awareness of our residents."

According to official statistics the city has experienced a growth in its gross domestic product and faster infrastructure construction since winning the bid in 2001 for the sailing events.

"As analyzed and predicted by social and economic experts the Olympic sailing events will make Qingdao richer, cleaner, more open and more civilized," said Zang. "With the driving force of the Olympics the city will become more dynamic and competitive with a better living environment."

Qingdao is making every effort to build up its image as a "sailing city," Zang added.

The Beijing 2008 Olympic emblem and the sailing boat logo have appeared in almost every corner of the city. Thousands of tickets have already been sold or booked by local residents to watch events.

According to Qingdao's Olympic plan its preparation for the Games is in four phases -- preparations, development, testing and improvement, and actual operation.

With the staging of this event the city has already entered the testing and improvement phase when examinations, improvements and trial operations are being carried out at all construction projects and services. During the four-month operational phase from August 2008 the sailing events of both the 2008 Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games will be held.

In Olympic sailing competitions there are nine sailing classes. Each country can enter one boat in each class.

(China Daily August 18, 2006)

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