Before leaving for Osaka to continue their tour of 2008 Olympic Games candidate cities, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Evaluation Commission gave Beijing a reason for optimism.
Inspired by generally positive words from the Olympic inspectors on Saturday, top officials from the Beijing bid committee said their confidence with regard to the bid has been amplified.
"I do believe the IOC will make a selection which will give a big boost and leave a most precious heritage to the Olympic Movement... and that is Beijing," Liu Qi, Beijing's mayor and president of the bid committee, said yesterday at a news conference.
"We are able to and will host a most outstanding Olympics," he added.
Despite staying in Beijing for a brief four-day visit, the commission officials said that they were able to get "a fairly good picture of the city.".
The 17-member team, which has been charged with relaying information about Beijing's ability to host the Olympics to IOC members, heard detailed reports on 17 subjects and visited a total of 27 spots, including sports venues, during their stay in the city.
The inspection team is forbidden by IOC rules from comparing candidate cities, but members of the team gave Beijing a glowing review.
The most impressive memory the team will take back to the IOC, commission Chairman Hein Verbruggen said, is witnessing the overwhelming support for the Games demonstrated by Beijingers.
Also impressive, according to Verburggen, was the massive US$12 billion clean-up effort the city has undertaken, he said.
"We have tried to determine the level of support for the bid and I think we have found great public support here," Verbruggen said, verifying Beijing's claims that more than 90 per cent of its residents are in favour of hosting the Games.
"The fulfilment of Beijing's environmental plan, which will take place irrespective of whether Beijing is awarded the Olympic Games, will create a significant legacy for the city," the evaluation team leader added.
Wider support, stretching even across the Taiwan Straits, has been actively encouraged by the Beijing bid committee.
Taiwan authorities have reportedly suggested the island would be willing to host some of the events if Beijing is awarded the Olympics.
"That is proof that our compatriots in Taiwan share our 2008 aspirations," claimed Tu Mingde, secretary-general of Chinese Olympic Committee.
Tu declined to rule out the possibility of moving some Games events to Taiwan.
"Beijing is willing to discuss the issue with Taiwan according to the 'one-China' principle if it wins the bid. But any decision on the issue needs IOC approval beforehand," he said.
(China Daily 02/26/2001)