Italy -- host of the 1960 Summer Olympiad and the 2006 Winter Games -- on Thursday offered to help make Beijing's 2008 Olympics the best ever Games by sending a team of top businesses and consultants to the Chinese capital city.
They were in town to attend the Italy and China 2002 Forum, an event aimed at forging partnerships with Chinese firms.
It places Italian entrepreneurs at the head of the global race to win tenders for projects which will make the 2008 Games a green and high-tech Olympics.
And they were backed by Li Rongrong, minister of the State Economic and Trade Commission, which sponsored the three-day forum along with Italy's Confindustria and the Italian Institute for Foreign Trade.
Li said at Thursday's opening ceremony that China will invest nearly 300 billion yuan (US$36.1 billion) in the construction of infrastructure, information and environment facilities and stadia for the Olympics.
This represented a tremendous business opportunity for domestic and foreign firms, he said.
"We hope Italian businesses -- many of them highly competitive -- and Chinese firms can locate partners for each other, and find proper means to participate in the building of Olympic projects," the minister said.
Beijing pledged to offer first-rate venues, a clean environment and the most considerate services when it was designated the host for the Olympics on July 13.
A total of 177 bidders from across the world are joining the race for Olympic contracts, said Huang Yan, vice-director of the municipal design commission.
(China Daily June 21, 2002)