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Tianjin Benefits from 2008 Games Build-up
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Liu Dong bought a two-bedroom flat in the northern suburbs of Tianjin two years ago for 250,000 yuan (US$31,250). He sold it last month for 400,000 yuan (US$49,382).

"Without the Beijing Olympics, I would have never made such a huge profit," said the 44-year-old driver for a local newspaper.

"As the closest of the cities to Beijing and the host of the Olympic football games, Tianjin has changed in many ways."

Liu is just one of the many beneficiaries of the 2008 Olympics.

Tianjin is currently a two-hour drive from Beijing. But thanks to a 12.3 billion yuan (US$1.5 billion) Beijing-Tianjin rail link, journey time will be cut to 30 minutes by the time the Olympic flame lights up.

Tianjin University student Du Juan expects the Games to create many good employment opportunities.

"I am applying for a job with the local organizing committee for the 2008 Games," she said.

Along with Shenyang, Qinhuangdao and Shanghai, Tianjin will host Olympic men's and women's football games, allowing it to get a taste of the infrastructure expansion drive that is changing the face of the Chinese capital.

The four cities are hoping their new status will bring urban renewal and renovation as well as international sporting recognition.

Qingdao and Hong Kong, the other Olympic co-hosts, will be the venues of the Olympic sailing and equestrian competitions respectively.

A new 80,000-seat Olympic stadium is being built in Tianjin, while the city's airport is also undergoing expansion.

Upon completion of the 2.6 billion yuan (US$320 million) project in 2007, the expanded airport will handle 5.6 million passengers and 500,000 tons of cargo annually.

The new airport buildings will cover an area of 74,000 square metres. In addition, the current runways will be extended by 400 metres.

Construction of Tianjin Olympic Centre Stadium started in August 2003 and is due for completion in 2006. Designed by AXS SAWTO Inc (Japan), the stadium includes a huge indoor parking lot, an exhibition hall, dining room, health centre, and many rooms for both athletes and referees.

(China Daily June 2, 2006)

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