Ground was broken Wednesday in northern Beijing for construction of the National Stadium -- the landmark architecture project for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
A short while later, shovels and backhoes tore into earth and workers began building another venue for the Games, the National Swimming Centre.
Both are key venues on the Olympic Green, located in the Games' central sector.
The swimming centre is the only Olympic venue that is funded by donations from overseas Chinese, residents in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao.
"Today is a milestone in our preparations for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games,'' said Liu Qi, president of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the 29th Olympiad, at the opening ceremonies at National Stadium.
Liu said Beijing will do its best to fulfill its promise to the world to prepare itself to host the best-ever Olympic Games in history.
He urged good quality work with a reasonable budget to allow the venues to become precious national treasures after the games are completed.
Representing the China International Trust and Investment Corp (CITIC) Consortium, a proprietary component for the National Stadium, Kong Dan, its general manager of the corporation vowed the consortium will give full advantages in financing and construction to ensure a first-class venue, while collaborating with the Beijing State-owned Assets Management Corp.
The consortium and the corporation jointly consist as the National Stadium Co, and will work as the proprietor of the stadium for 30 years.
At the ground-breaking ceremony for the National Swimming Centre, one of the donors, Timothy Fok from Hong Kong said, "As a Chinese, I sincerely wanted to do my bit for the 2008 Games.''
While no individual donation was encouraged for the Games after Beijing won the right to host the event, more and more Chinese from outside the Chinese mainland expressed their strong desire to make contributions.
The government decided to select one venue -- the swimming centre -- to be funded by donations. A special committee, the Beijing Municipal Committee for Jointly Constructing Beijing Olympic Stadiums and Gymnasiums by Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan Compatriots and Overseas Chinese was established to supervise the donations.
The committee has received US$70 million so far from Chinese in 20 countries and regions. The expected investment for the centre is about US$100 million, said Qiao Wei, a committee member.
(China Daily December 25, 2003)