The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thursday praised Beijing's preparations for the 2008 Olympic Games.
"The work that our Chinese friends are doing is truly impressive," said Hein Verbruggen, chairman of the IOC Coordination Commission, following three days of meetings with the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2008 Olympic Games (BOCOG).
The committee has earmarked US$12.6 billion to improve the city's environment for the Games, and about US$5.3 billion has been spent over the past several years to bring Beijing in line with the green Olympic guideline.
The campaign to improve the city's environment, particularly air quality, has achieved initial success, said BOCOG vice president Jiang Xiaoyu.
In the first seven months of 2003 Beijing recorded Grade II (good) air quality on 64 percent of the days.
Air pollution was once Beijing's biggest environmental problem, partly caused by the use of coal for heating. Five years ago good air quality was limited to just 28 percent of days annually.
Today natural gas has replaced the traditional fuel and other measures have been taken to improve the environment. These include cleaning up polluted rivers, building a green belt on the outskirts of the city, phasing out diesel-fuelled buses, introducing cleaner energy sources, and closing polluting industrial plants.
BOCOG has already attained three of this year's objectives, namely the start of venue construction, signing of the frame agreement for the establishment of the Beijing Olympic Broadcasting Co and launching the 2008 Olympic Games emblem and marketing plan.
The next meeting of the IOC Coordination Commission will be held in Beijing in November 2004, after the Athens Games.
(China Daily September 5, 2003)