Dazzling fireworks lit up the night sky above coastal city
Qingdao in east China's Shandong Province as a cool breeze whirled
through the city's streets on Sunday evening. BOCOG (Beijing
Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad) President
and Beijing Party chief Liu Qi was in attendance at the Qingdao
Olympic Sailing Center -- the venue of the 2008 Olympic sailing competition -- to
officially launch the opening ceremony of "Good Luck Beijing --2006
Qingdao International Regatta."
The regatta plays host to a massive and star-studded fleet, with
both World and Olympic Champions topping the list of over 464
sailors from 41 countries. Starting from August 21, these
competitors belonging to world's Olympic elite will take to the
water at the ISAF (International Sailing Federation) Grade 2
Qingdao International Regatta.
Organized by the Chinese Yachting Association together with the
Qingdao municipal government, the regatta is the first test for the
2008 Olympic Games preparations and is regarded as a major
international Olympic-class regatta, giving Qingdao a chance to
accumulate experience in hosting large international sporting
events and helping the city better prepare for the 2008 Olympic
Speaking at the opening ceremony, ISAF Vice President David
Kellett spoke highly of his Chinese counterparts for their great
efforts in hosting the regatta, "This is an important moment in the
history of sailing and great honor to see such impressive gathering
of Olympic and world champions here in China for the regatta. I'm
very impressed by Qingdao's preparation for the Olympic sailing
regatta and I can already say it will be a magnificent facility.
It's also a great opportunity to experience sailing in the same
water as we will do in 2008 Olympic regatta."
Over 300 journalists from 80 media organs including 30 foreign
media outlets such as Associated Press, AFP and Reuters have come
to Qingdao to cover the regatta. The regatta will feature all
eleven of the Olympic sailing events from nine classes including
the RS:X(M), RS:X(W), Laser, Laser Radial, Finn, 470(M),
470(W), Star, Tornado, 49er and Yngling classes. Some of the
sailboats gathered at the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center on August
20 and officials busied themselves with the examination of the
sailboats and the adaptation of the venue environment. On the
afternoon of August 21, the formal competition will kick off with
the start of the RS:X(M), 49er, Laser, Laser Radial, 470, Yngling
and Finn events. The regatta will run till August 31.
In order to ensure the smooth running of the event, three
operation centers including a city operation center, a games
operation center and a security center have been set up under the
supervision of the organizing committee. 1,205 volunteers have been
recruited to provide service to athletes and journalist in
Lying on the southern bank of the Shandong Peninsula, Qingdao
integrates modern cityscapes with old European-styled architectures
and provides a stunning backdrop, melding lofty mountain slopes
with the blue sparkle of a sea, scattered with red reefs. It is not
only a popular destination for visitors from around China and the
world but also a major economic center in Northeast Asia, being one
of the largest ports in China and providing the headquarters for
many of China's leading companies. As Beijing's co-hosting city for
the 2008 Olympic Games, Qingdao's international profile is expected
to continue to rise in coming years.
Strolling in this famous seaside city, the 2008 Beijing Olympic
emblem is hanging everywhere along with sailing-boat images. The
posters and banners carry such slogans as "Meeting in Beijing and
Sailing in Qingdao", "Sailing with heart, sailing to success," and
thus greet people from all over the world.
"Qingdao is making every effort to enhance its image as a
'Sailing City' and the regatta bears the task to let the world know
Qingdao," said Qingdao Mayor Xia Geng at a press conference the day
before the opening ceremony.
"It's a big challenge for Qingdao to host the 2008 Olympic
Sailing Competition since Qingdao has never held large scale
international regattas in the past and is undergoing a shortage of
experienced technicians in this field. Besides, Qingdao citizens
still have inadequate knowledge on the regatta and modern sailing
sports," admitted Mayor Xia Geng, "Therefore the process of
preparing for the 2008 Olympics Games will also involve
popularizing sailing knowledge among local residents."
Qingdao has carried out many activities to popularize sailing
sports, including promoting sailing sports knowledge among primary
and middle schools and several sailing summer camps have been held.
Some officials and coaches from European sailing clubs or
federations have been invited to give instructions and help young
people get familiar with sailing and train in the sport.
In order to encourage more young people to join the sport,
Qingdao has set up the Qingdao Women Yngling Team. The team has
taken part in some competitions domestically and in France,
recording great progress in the process. They will also take part
in the 2008 regatta and sailing competition. Students from China's
Oceanic University have set up a 49er team, also taking part in
this year's regatta.
According to Sun Lijie, secretary-general of the Sailing
Committee (Qingdao) of Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games
of the XXIX Olympiad, known as the Sailing Sub-committee of BOCOG
(SSCQD), the 45-hectare Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center is located
at the former Beihai Shipyards by Qingdao's Fushan Bay. With an
investment of 3.28 billion yuan, the environment-friendly venue
comprises both land and water projects with all works on the venue
expected to be completed in next June. Over 5 million yuan have
been used to clear the silt in 180,000-sq meter water areas in the
past three years. These efforts have paid off with the water now
very clear and fish of different sizes and varieties living in this
Qingdao has also taken into full consideration the post-Olympic
use of the venue, when designing it. After the Olympic Sailing
Competition, the venue will become a national sailing sports school
as well as a water sports training center. The whole Olympic
Sailing Center will be open to the public, becoming a place of
recreation and a tourist resort.
"Three years ago, I was very nervous when thinking of hosting
such a big international regatta, but now I am very confident that
Qingdao is capable of hosting a successful regatta thanks to the
joint efforts of Qingdao citizens and support from all over the
country," said Xia Geng.
(China.org.cn by staff reporter Wang Qian, August 21, 2006)