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Beijing Pledges Best-ever Summer Games
Beijing's Olympics committee boss promised the best-ever games when he met with visiting IOC Life President Antonio Samaranch Tuesday.

Liu Qi also expressed his thanks for the timely and excellent advice that Samaranch had given after the city won the bid to host the XXIX Olympiad.

It was under Samaranch's presidency that Beijing succeeded in its long-coveted aim to host the Olympics.

Samaranch is now the International Olympic Committee (IOC)'s Honorary Life President.

Liu, the Beijing municipal Party secretary, said Olympic preparations are on track as the SARS epidemic fades, and guaranteed either plans or construction would be effected by the disease.

Over the past months, the committee has been looking at blueprints of several major venues, including the National Swimming Center. Major construction work is scheduled to begin at the end of this year.

With an excellent and well-ahead-of-schedule performance by the committee, Samaranch is confident that Liu's predictions will be realized.

"I particularly think my Chinese friends will make the Games in your capital -- Beijing the best in Olympic history,'' Samaranch said in an exclusive interview with China Daily.

"I would like to attend the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing as a spectator if I could, because I am always supporting your country,'' he said.

The 83-year-old Spaniard had advised Beijing to attach great importance to the after-Games utilization of new sports facilities.

"Preparations for the new sports facilities will not be a problem (for Beijing), what you have to think when building new sports sites is the use of them after the Olympics,'' he said.

Having looked at the details of the capital's plans, Samaranch said that he was pleased to see that the organizing committee had indeed focused on this issue.

Following his three-day visit, Samaranch left for Paris yesterday evening together with the visiting Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio.

The trip was the ninth to Beijing for the man who was IOC President from 1980 to 2001.

"You have done a lot of things in the last two years (after winning the bid) and I am sure that Beijing can achieve the goal of finishing construction a year before the Games, by 2007,'' he said.

"During my 21 years as IOC president, I always had excellent and friendly relations with China.''

Turning to the China-Spain forum, a newly-established body of which Samaranch is chairman, he revealed that the first working session will be held in October in Beijing.

"I will come again,'' he said, smiling.

Samaranch said Spain is willing to share its experience of hosting the Barcelona Olympics with Beijing to help the city achieve a great success.

He said the forum will help Spanish enterprises gain greater opportunities in the area of gymnasium construction for the 2008 Olympic Games.

He said for its part the Spanish side is also expected to aid China through the forum to improve the country's level in some sports such as tennis, football and hockey.

Liu Jingmin vice-president of the committee expressed his gratitude to Samaranch for his valuable suggestions.

"We have followed many of them,'' said Liu, adding that the committee had listened keenly to the international community, inviting many foreign experts advice, when it came to making decisions on venue construction.

"We place much significance on multi-function and cost-effectiveness during the construction,'' he said.

(China Daily July 9, 2003)

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