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Sports Venues Set for Special Guests
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Shanghai's stadiums and sports venues are ready to receive the crowds expected to attend the Special Olympics World Summer Games Shanghai 2007 in October.


Altogether, 30 sports venues, including Shanghai Stadium, where the grand opening and closing ceremonies will take place, were formally designated for use during the games.


Shanghai is the first city in Asia to host the event for athletes with intellectual disabilities. The upcoming event marks the second time for the games to be held outside the US.


"Since the completion of the Special Olympics Invitational Games last year, which was a dress rehearsal for the games this year, we have been focusing on preparations for the Shanghai Summer Games to be held between October 2 and 11," Li Weiting, deputy director of the Shanghai administration of sports, said yesterday.


The city spent 500 million yuan (US$65.9 million) renovating the decades-old buildings slated to serve as venues, which are located across the city's 19 districts and counties. It was the largest renovation project in a decade. It also built three new venues.


Facilities for the disabled were added, the layout of some buildings was improved and the environment was tidied up, Li said.


For instance, in Minhang District, where more than 500 athletes, coaches and officials will stay during the 10-day event, all the sports venues and hotels are ready for action.


Since the revamp project, the exterior of the Minhang Gymnasium, in which the athletes will play Ping Pong, shines in the sunlight.


The clinic, participant lounges, coffee rooms and other venues in the gym are ready to welcome their special guests. Clear signs for directions, maps and facilities for disabled individuals are all in place.


"We meant to leave a deep impression in the minds of athletes," Li said. "Safety comes ahead of any other consideration, even the competition."


With more than 40 days to go, the steering committee is busy putting on the final touches.


The song, "We Share One World", written by two Shanghai musicians, was recently picked as the theme song for the Games.


In addition to almost 7,500 athletes, the Special Olympics organizers expect the Games to draw 40,000 volunteers, 3,500 event officials and thousands of families, spectators and journalists from all around the world.


Special Olympics athletes of all ability levels will compete in 25 different Olympic type and performance sports.


(China Daily August 16, 2007)

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