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IOC Impressed with Olympics Venue Progress
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Senior International Olympic Committee (IOC) officials expressed their satisfaction with venue construction for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games yesterday during an inspection tour.

"I'm always happy and even proud to see how the construction is going," said Hein Verbruggen, chairman of the IOC Coordination Commission (COCOM) for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad.

"The progress is fantastic. We can say no time has been lost."

Led by Verbruggen, a group of COCOM officials visited the main venue cluster in northern Beijing yesterday morning before the opening of the sixth COCOM plenary session.

During the venue tour, the officials visited nine key construction sites, including the National Stadium, the National Aquatics Center, the National Indoor Stadium, the Olympic Village and the National Convention Center.

With the main structure of the National Stadium and the National Aquatics Center rising up from the ground, the officials were full of praise for the efforts made so far.

"What I'm thinking about is that only one word is enough (to describe what I think) - marvelous - especially for the athletes," Verbruggen said.

"Looking at the bird's nest, this will be a future icon for Beijing."

As the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games, the National Stadium, which has been dubbed the "bird's nest" due to its distinctive shape, work is now being done on its principal steel structure. The whole project is to be completed by the end of 2007.

As for the National Aquatics Center, known as the "water cube", the main structure is completed and the installation of the outer walls is under way.

"In terms of construction techniques, the venues in Beijing will be considered unique in the history of the Olympics," said Wu Ching-kuo, IOC member from Chinese Taipei. "It will leave a valuable architectural legacy for the people."

"It's my first time visiting the Beijing venues. They're really very good venues and facilities," said Sergey Bubka, chairman of the IOC Athletes' Commission. "It's very impressive."

From yesterday, COCOM started its three-day plenary session meeting in Beijing.

They will hold working group meetings with Beijing organizers on preparatory work such as venue operation, competition scheduling, media services, culture and ceremonies, medical services and security affairs.

(China Daily May 17, 2006)

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