The Olympic host China on Tuesday announced the complete resettlement of up to 10 million survivors of the calamitous May 12 earthquake, as the country's Olympians maintained their gold-reaping momentum with a vigorous fighting spirit at the Beijing Games.
Tuesday witnessed an unstoppable team of Chinese male gymnasts storm to a long-coveted Olympic team gold medal, beating defending champion Japan by a comfortable margin of 7.25 points. Everyone in the team, which won a gold in Sydney 2000 but dropped to a humiliating fifth position four years later in Athens, burst into tears following their hard-earned victory.
"It's a dream coming true, and the feeling is so wonderful," wrote Zou Kai, a team member, in his blog on sina.com.cn updated on Tuesday afternoon.
"In particular, I want to share the honor of this gold with the people of my home province -- Sichuan," Zou added. "It was their solidarity and unyielding spirit in the face of crisis that inspired me to perform well in today's competition."
The team's victory happened to fall exactly three months after the 8.0-magnitude Wenchuan earthquake, which jolted southwest China's Sichuan Province and neighboring regions, causing more than 80,000 people dead or missing, and leaving 10 million others homeless.
And the champion gymnast Zou's comments also coincided with a Tuesday announcement from the Sichuan provincial government, which stated that all displaced people in the quake-affected areas have moved into temporary new houses.
Among the 4.454 million households that lost their homes in the tremor, some 978,000 urban households have moved into temporary plank houses in some 3,400 resettlement quarters, all built by government-sponsored construction teams from all over the country.
Most of the 3.476 million rural families rebuilt their homes through their own efforts, with government subsidies of 2,000 yuan (285 U.S. dollars) per household.
"It can be called a miracle in the human history of combating major natural disasters," said Hou Xiongfei, spokesman of the Sichuan provincial government at a press conference in the provincial capital Chengdu. "And we wouldn't have accomplished this without the assistance from the whole country and the whole world."
Hailing the smooth progress of the reconstruction in Sichuan and the successful hosting of the Olympics in Beijing at the same time, China Central Television made a brief commentary in its 7 p.m. Prime Time News, with a rare, passionate title "Hello Wenchuan! Go Beijing!"
Actually, the 16-day international sports gala in the Chinese capital has been associated with the world-shaking tremor ever since its grand opening ceremony, held in the National Stadium, or the Bird's Nest, in north Beijing on Friday night.
"You have chosen as the theme of these Games 'One World, One Dream.' That is what we are tonight," said International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge at the ceremony. "As one world, we grieved with you over the tragic earthquake in Sichuan Province."
Liu Qi, president of the Beijing Olympics organizing committee, also thanked the international community and the IOC for their "helping hands" after the earthquake, which he said had "heighten the morale of the Chinese nation in the reconstruction of quake-stricken areas" and "boosted our confidence and determination in staging successful Games."
The entire stadium with an audience of some 91,000 rose to a standing ovation when Lin Hao, a 9-year-old second-grader from a primary school in the epicenter Wenchuan who risked his life to save schoolmates from the collapsed building, spearheaded the 1,099-member Chinese delegation along with 7-foot-6 basketball star Yao Ming, at the end of the athletes' march-in.
As the Games have gone into full swing over the past four days, the Chinese athletes have been harvesting gold medals every day. Apart from the male gymnasts, synchronized divers Wang Xin and Chen Ruolin, fencer Zhong Man and weightlifter Liao Hui added three more golds to the Chinese collection, keeping the country atop the medal tally for the fourth day with 13 golds, trailed by the United States with 7 golds.
Also on Tuesday, the Chinese men's basketball team, led by their passion-loaded center Yao Ming, who plays for Houston Rockets in the NBA, fought a fierce battle against an apparently more powerful Spain. With a surprising display of courage and teamwork, the Chinese held on to their lead for most of the time, while the Spaniards only tied the game 72-72 with 19.7 seconds to go in the regular time and claimed victory 85-75 after Yao was fouled out in the overtime.
"It was a great game. Our lads fought bravely and were just unlucky," commented Wang Zhengyou, 33, a farmer in Yangdian Village, Mianchi Township of Wenchuan County, after watching the live broadcast of the game.
Wang's five-member family moved in a temporary house they built themselves with the government subsidy at the end of July, just in time to watch the Beijing Olympics.
"I was very frustrated when the tremor destroyed everything in seconds -- the house and all the assets I earned through working in the cities," said Wang. "For a period I lost hope and faith."
"But seeing the great performance of the Chinese athletes at the Olympic Games is really encouraging," he said. "Just like Yao and his team, they are weaker than the Americans and the Spaniards, but their spirit can really boost the morale of people here, who were also unlucky to be stricken by the earthquake."
The young man said that he had asked friends outside to collect employment information for him. "When the Games are over, I will leave the village for big cities, to earn money there and start all over again."
(Xinhua News Agency August 12, 2008)