Dozens of world leaders are expected to visit the famed 798 Art District in Beijing during the 2008 Olympic Games in August, a local official told Xinhua on Thursday.
"During the Games, heads of 50 to 60 countries will visit the district, where a series of art exhibitions will be staged," said Wu Xijun, deputy director with the government-run 798 Art District Office.
He said the list of names and the schedule of the visits hadn't yet been finalized.
"More than 10,000 visitors are expected every day during the Games, almost tripling the present number," he added.
The district, China's premier hub of contemporary art, is a bohemian oasis transformed from a deserted 1950s-era factory zone with galleries, cafes, bookstores, outdoor sculptures and graffiti on the walls.
The Soho-like district, covering 230,000 square meters in the eastern Dashanzi neighborhood, was pioneered by artists in the late 1990s. It was originally known as Factory 798 in honor of the official code number of the munitions factory that occupied the site for half a century.
From July to September, the galleries will stage many exhibitions, and the district has cleaned up its roads and recruited more bilingual guides.
On the issue of safety, local officials are evaluating risks and planning for such contingencies as terrorist attacks, political incidents and accidents.
The district's famous visitors have included former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
(Xinhua News Agency July 4,2008)