A new tract of forest will be added to Beijing's green Olympic legacy.
Led by International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge, officials from the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee and more than 200 chefs de mission, who are in Beijing to attend a seminar, planted saplings at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Forest Park in the northern part of the city yesterday.
The saplings were tagged with the names and organization of each country participating in the Games.
According to BOCOG officials, it is the first time that such an event has been held in the history of the Games.
"(Planting trees at the Olympic Friendship Forest) is a good symbol to leave for future generations. It not only represents a key element in environment protection, but also a green lung and a symbol of life," Rogge said.
"I'm convinced the Beijing Games will leave a green legacy and an awareness of the importance of a healthy environment which will remain for future generations."
More than 200 saplings were planted, which will go a long way toward improving Beijing's environment, which is of major concern.
"If you look around, you must have this concern (about air pollution). I have not seen the sun, nor a blue sky up to now," Michael Vesper, general director of the German Olympic Sports Confederation, said.
"I hope the BOCOG and the Chinese government will be able to improve conditions ahead of the Games."
Vesper said, however, he remains optimistic after hearing reports from the BOCOG.
"I'm very much impressed by how far the preparation work has progressed. I hope the Games will be peaceful and successful with no pollution," he said.
The officials also visited some of the main venues of the Games.
They were very impressed by the National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest, and the National Aquatics Center, also known as the Water Cube.
"I have attended eight Olympic Games and the Bird's Nest is the most outstanding venue I have seen. Its nickname is apt as it does resemble a bird's nest," Otgontsagaan Jugder, secretary-general of the Mongolia Olympic Committee, said.
"It tells the world that Asia has first-class facilities
(China Daily August 9, 2007)