Beyond Beijing in 2008ˇˇSpecial Olympic President Backs Beijing's BidˇˇWorld Olympians Meet in Beijing
Beijing Wins!

The International Olympic Committee made history tonight by awarding China its first Olympic games.

The news that Beijing will host the 2008 Summer Olympics Games was greeted with celebration throughout China where a recent independent Gallup poll showed some 96 percent of the people behind Beijing's bid.

The Chinese delegation's successful final presentation before the IOC in Moscow was shown live in China starting around 7 p.m in Beijing where people watched the televised proceedings that ended with a stirring Zhang Yimou film showcasing the people of Beijing in their support of the Olympics.

The support of the Chinese people for Beijing's Olympic bid was something that Liu Qi, Beijing's mayor, emphasized to the IOC:

"More than 90 percent of the Chinese people support Beijing's bid, because they believe it will help improve their quality of life," Liu Qi said.

"It will help promote our economic and social policies and will further help develop our human rights cause."

He Zhenliang, a longtime IOC member who was master of ceremonies of the Chinese presentation, said a Beijing victory would help "all mankind."

"The whole world will benefit," He said. "The message you send today may signal a new era of global unity."

The Olympic flame's arrival has been a long time coming for people of the world's most populous nation who have an avid interest in sports and where Chinese athletes at the highest levels have a distinguished record in international sports competition, including the modern Olympic games.

As early as 1908, an article in a Chinese magazine, Tianjin Youth, raised three questions that showed China's early interest in international sports competition: When can China send an athlete to participate in the Olympic Games? When can China send a team to participate in the Olympic Games? And -- When can China host an Olympic Games?

Historical circumstances conspired to delay the answers for China. In the first half of the 20th Century, China was dominated by foreign countries that left the country so politically unstable and economically devastated that it was considered "the sick man of East Asia." It was not until the founding of the People's Republic in 1949 that China formed a central government and the country became whole.

As the economy grew over the second half of the 20th Century in China, so did the Chinese people's interest in sports and other forms of recreation. China won its first gold medal at the 1984 summer Olympics in Los Angeles, coming in fourth as a team. In 1996, Chinese athletes won 16 gold medals, 22 silver medals and 12 bronze medals at the 1996 summer Olympics in Atlanta.

In 1993 Beijing entered the bidding process for Olympics 2000, and many thought the time had come for China's dream of hosting an Olympic Games. But by a close vote, Beijing was edged out by Sydney and the 2000 games went to Australia. Beijing was considered a favorite in that race, too, and in the first rounds prevailed: Beijing got 32, 37 and 40 votes and Sydney got 30, 30, and 37. But in the last round, Sydney edged out Beijing by only two votes.

This bitter disappointment led to renewed determination. Following the old Chinese maxim of "getting everything well-prepared before starting a task," Beijing decided to by-pass bidding on the 2004 Games to focus on developing its economy.

Long before Beijing launched its bid for 2008 Games, the Beijing municipality formulated an environment protection plan worth US$12 billion. By 2000, Beijing had invested US$3.6 billion in environment protection along with another US$5.5 billion investment in 2003-2008. Meanwhile, the service industry greatly expanded so that by 200l Beijing was a city with 458 star-grade hotels with 84,812 rooms. That number is expected to grow to 800 star-grade hotels with a total of 130,000 rooms by 2008.

Meanwhile, Beijing in the eight years following its original Olympic bid saw an annual growth rate in its economy that averaged 9.8 percent. And for the past five years, the financial revenue has increased by 20 percent every year.

In 2000, Beijing recorded US$4.14 billion in government revenue, much of which Beijing invested in infrastructure and environment. Beijing promised to build 32 new stadiums for the 2008 Summer Games, but 24 of those were previously included in municipal construction with no bearing on the outcome of the Olympic vote. The Olympic Village, according to Beijing's plan, will be located within the Olympic Green with 80 hectares (about 198 acres) land area and 470,000 square meters of building area.

(CIIC 07/13/2001)