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IOC Suggests Mid-summer 2008 Games
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has suggested Beijing start the 2008 Olympic Games either in the last week of July or the first week of August, but many people doubt the athletes would be able to stand the heat of the city at that time.

It is generally the hottest point of summer in the city, which has right now just emerged from an oppressive bout of sultry weather rarely seen in recent years.

The final opening time will be decided next year and the Beijing organizing committee said the suggested time could be changed.

After a whirl-wind tour around the city on Wednesday, the IOC sat down together yesterday with the top Olympic planners from Beijing, to discuss the best ways to run what promises to be the most-watched sporting gala in the capital's history.

The two sides -- the Beijing Olympic Games Organizing Committee and the IOC Coordination Commission -- touched on some core areas of the Games in different seminars.

The talks covered construction, marketing, sports, finance, the environment, security and communications.

Beijing Olympic officials said some of the fundamental preparatory jobs had already been mapped out and that they believed the overall preparations were moving along as planned.

"We have made draft plans for the main Olympic venues and have started to acquire the reserved lands for these venues," said Beijing Mayor Liu Qi, who is also the head of the Beijing Organizing Committee.

In addition to construction, Liu said the committee has also paid much attention to image-building for the Games and the initial setting up of the marketing plan for the Games.

"All the preparations are running smoothly," said the mayor.

Beijing has great hopes about hosting China's first ever Olympic Games, and wants to make the city not only a perfect place for the Olympics but also for its people. The officials are expecting earth-shaking changes in the city catalyzed by the Olympics.

A multi-billion-dollar program has been set and it will bring 17 brand-new stadiums and gymnasiums for Olympic competitions, add 500 kilometers to the city's expressways, and 41 kilometers to the existing 53.7 kilometers of subway line.

Beijing officials hope that the subway and other railway lines will ensure that the city has the transport facilities to handle the heavy traffic during the Games.

"The key is to establish a subway and railway transportation network in the city," said Yu Chunquan, vice-director of the city's traffic control center, when the commission visited the center on Wednesday.

"By 2008, about 30 to 40 percent of transportation will utilize subway and railway lines. This will greatly reduce the pressure on the highway system," he said.

An international competition for design of two main Olympic venues -- the Olympic Green and Wukesong Cultural and Sports Center -- that lasted for three months was also held by the committee, providing Beijing with a draft blueprint for these venues.

The IOC officials said they were amazed by what Beijing had done in the three months since they last visited Beijing in April.

Hein Verbruggen, the commission's chairman, said he felt certain in predicting successful Games because of the hard work of Beijing.

The fact-finding group arrived in the Chinese capital in April and it gave the city resounding praise for the preparatory work done by its organizing committee.

(China Daily August 9, 2002)

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