94.9% Residents Back Beijing's Olympic Bid

A poll by the Gallup Research Co Ltd. (China) of 1,626 Beijing residents in November showed that 94.9 percent of them, including both suburb farmers and urban dwellers, had thrown their weight behind the Chinese capital's bid, with 94 percent ready to serve as Olympic volunteers.

The results are similar to another poll by a domestic company in May, which showed that 94.6 percent of Beijing residents supported the bid to host the Games.

Fang Xiaoguang, vice-chairman of Gallup China, said the poll appealed to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Bid Committee because of its "independent, objective and professional" approach.

"We were commissioned by the Beijing bidding committee but the survey was a commercial activity. We are not subject to any other interest groups and we performed in line with the principles of the market economy," said Fang.

The company, a joint venture between the Gallup Organization of the United States and its Chinese partner, carried out another survey earlier this month, and found that Beijing residents' aspirations to host the sporting gala and their readiness to become part of the Olympics remained as strong as ever.

"The two polls had the same questionnaire and almost the same percentage of people backed the bid," said Fang.

Among those questioned, elderly residents showed the strongest desire to see Beijing win the bid, hoping they could see the Games come to their city before they died. "Some senior people said they would exercise and build up their bodies in order to live until the day when the Games are staged in Beijing," said Sun Sipeng, the regional supervisor of Gallup China.

Sun said he was very impressed by a blind man who will "watch" television or listen to the radio if the Olympic flame is ignited in Beijing.

"The man said he felt a lot of regret because he won't be able to watch the Games with his eyes. But if the Games come to Beijing, he said he will stick to the screen or radio every day, to keep track of what happens until the curtain falls," Sun said.

The poll also gathered ideas about what kinds of things could be happening during the campaign to get the Games to the city. One urban resident said Beijing should keep its cultural characteristics instead of copying developed countries by splurging on infrastructure.

Among those who opposed the bid, some were concerned Beijing does not have the capabilities to host the Games, or thought it should place the problem of unemployment above the Olympic bid.

"Only 3 percent of those questioned oppose, a much smaller percentage than in other candidate cities," said Sun.

Popular support inspires the bidding team, which is awaiting the inspection of the International Olympic Committee's evaluation commission.

(Xinhua 02/20/2001)

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