A team of international inspectors scoping Beijing's suitability for the 2008 Olympic Games have come away impressed by the city's break-neck pace of development.
The International Triathlon Union, the tenth sports union to visit Beijing, is the first to request a press conference, giving the city a welcome insight into the impression it is making.
"Although it might be hard for an elderly man like me to completely comprehend the changes having taken place here in Beijing since 1949, it is surely good for this city to become more like the rest of the world," said Triathlon Union President Les Macdonald Wednesday.
The inspections began on October 16 in Beijing and by the middle of next month, 18 more will come.
For Mark Sisson, the secretary of the Union, even more impressive than the wide roads and modern buildings was the spirit of Beijing's people. He visited the city once before in 1991.
"The spirit convinces me that local people now possess the confidence and influence to unite people from other corners of the world, which is indispensable for a city hosting the Olympic Games," he said.
Although he did not indicate whether Beijing was eligible to hold the triathlon event, Macdonald did say that he was satisfied that Beijing would be able to cater for the event's swimming leg.
Following talks with the city's transportation officials early yesterday, Sisson said he had full confidence that the quality of Beijing's roads would be suitable for triathlon runners.
Besides building its Fourth Ring Road, the "Olympic Games Bid Avenue," Beijing is improving the city's transport management to lift the average speed of urban vehicles to over 40 kilometres per hour, while equipping 225 main streets with car parking spaces.
Officials of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Bid Committee refused to comment on the inspections by international sport unions so far, other than to say they were "not bad."
Macdonald and his group leave Beijing for Osaka this morning. They have already inspected Toronto and Paris. Beijing next receives the inspection group for the fencing event.
(People's Daily 11/16/2000)