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Bird's Nest to host Olympic rehearsal
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The first rehearsal for the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games at the National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest, will be held on June 10, organizers said yesterday.

A full dress rehearsal will follow on July 10, officials from the event's opening and closing ceremonies operation center said.

Ahead of the event at the National Stadium, parts of the ceremony will be rehearsed as early as March, Wang Ning, vice-director of the center, said.

"The plans for the opening and closing ceremonies for the Olympic and Paralympic Games have been approved by the International Olympic Committee and International Paralympic Committee," Wang, who is leading more than 400 professional artists and experts in the center, said.

"The Chinese people will be proud of the grand ceremonies, which are also set to greatly impress the world."

Yesterday's news came amid growing anticipation of the coming international sporting event, which is now less than seven months away.

The director of the opening and closing ceremonies, world-renowned movie director Zhang Yimou, had earlier said the opening ceremony would "bring warmth to spectators' hearts".

The very first rehearsals were carried out in August last year.

"Plans for the lighting, stage layout and fireworks have also been worked out and put into action," Wang said yesterday.

"We will try our best to complete the tasks and attain the highest of standards," he said.

Volunteers almost ready

More than 80 percent of the 100,000 volunteers required for this year's Olympic Games have been chosen and confirmed, officials from the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG) said yesterday.

"We have received more than 800,000 applicants for the Games, and a further 920,000 for the 400,000 urban volunteer positions," Liu Jian, head of the BOCOG's volunteer department, said.

"More than 80,000 volunteers have been confirmed. Nearly half of them are university students based in Beijing, who have passed exams, interviews and background checks.

"They have also received some training and participated in a series of trial events last year."

(China Daily January 9, 2008)

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