Following China's national team winning a berth in the upcoming World Cup finals co-hosted by South Korea and Japan, Chinese football fans and the service sector have been getting prepared for the month-long soccer festival.
Workers are putting finishing touches to three giant television screens set up in a park by the Beijing Western Railway Station, for the benefit of soccer fans in the Chinese capital during the World Cup extravaganza.
The huge TV screens are in Lianhua Park, the largest measuring 25 square metres. The two others are both 20 square metres. Such auxiliary facilities as audio equipment, a performance stage and a sun shield are being set up as well.
A 10,000-square-metre open space in front of the large TV screen will accommodate more than 5,000 spectators. The venue will provide live coverage of the games, which will run from tomorrow to June 30. The three screens together can cater for up to 8,000 spectators, offering them TV broadcasts, song and dance performances and lottery services.
China's TV manufacturers have played a major role in promoting World Cup fever in China. Many big name television manufacturers like Chang Hong, TCL and Konka have been running large-scale promotion campaigns to showcase their latest TV products to World Cup spectators since early March.
Guangdong-based TCL announced its co-operation with the international fast-food giant McDonald's to provide live game coverage.
Between Friday and June 30, the start and close of the event, TCL is donating 500 large-screen TVs to McDonald's outlets across China. Fans can go there to catch the games free.
TCL's president Li Dongshen said the activity and related advertisements may cost his company up to 100 million yuan (US$12 million).
"But we think the investment is worth it. Our brand value will get a big boost from the sponsorship," he said.
In addition to McDonald's, bars and cafes in Beijing's famous Sanlitun bar street and major big shopping malls will also be good places to go to take in the World Cup matches.
Nearly every bar in crowded Sanlitun has updated its TV screens for the World Cup craze. Though many insist on presenting live bands during the month, they admit that music will have to make way for soccer from time to time.
"Every shop has to bend to the soccer craze. If you resist, you will push your customers away," a bar owner in Sanlitun named Yang said.
He said some customers even booked seats in his bar for the spectacle, way back last year, so he warned football fans who want to enjoy football with a beer in a bar to reserve seats at an early date.
Most major shopping malls in Beijing have set up special rooms for soccer fans. Some shopping centres have prepared gifts for customers who can answer easy soccer-related questions at half-time.
( China Daily May 30, 2002)