Wuhan ready to welcome the world

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Athletes take part in a parachuting test event of the 7th Military World Games June 13, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

In just under three months' time, the 7th Military World Games will be staged in Wuhan, with the capital of Hubei province pulling out all the stops to ensure the event is a smash hit.

From Oct 18-27, Wuhan will welcome a total of 10,719 athletes from 105 International Military Sports Council (CISM) member countries.

A total of 27 sports (including two demonstration events) will be contested in 35 venues across the city-the largest number of events in Games' history, with badminton, table tennis, tennis and men's gymnastics all making their debuts this year.

Organizers are fully focused on staging a "green" Games, so only 13 of the 35 venues are new builds, with the remainder being renovations or temporary facilities. All of the construction was completed in just 27 months, with 40 percent of the venues located at local universities, where the public will have use of the facilities to ensure the Games' lasting legacy.

Wuhan Business University (WBU), for example, will host equestrian, modern pentathlon's fencing, swimming, show jumping and the combined event of pistol shooting and cross-country running.

The university finished upgrading its sports stadium for fencing last August, while it has also built a state-of-the-art, 514-seat swimming venue, which will be open to students and the public after the Games.

"I've seen the swimming venue become what it is now from scratch," said Wei Yijia, who leads a 40-strong technical support team in charge of the complex.

"To guarantee the venue's quality and full functionality, our team stays here every day. It took great effort to work on the details and to find out what can be improved. The athletes want the best result, and we want to provide them with the best venue."

Equestrian riders, meanwhile, will compete in a new 139,000-square-meter venue, which meets the standards of the sport's global governing body, the FEI.

Construction of the complex began in November 2017 and took just a year to complete. After the Games, it will become a public sports park.

To ensure the safety of the horses, the university has also established a special equine hospital, complete with specially designed ambulances for the animals.

"The equestrian venue is already operational, and many of our classmates will be volunteers during the Military World Games," said Shen Yijing, a sophomore student who majors in equestrianism at WBU.

"We will be in the stable to take care of the horses or work in the field to help during the competition.

"It's a great opportunity for us to learn from the best. Also, given our knowledge of the sport, we can contribute to the Games."

Moreover, 38 test competitions covering all 27 sports have been conducted or are underway in Wuhan.

The construction of accommodation and canteens in the athletes' village has been completed, while 98 designated hotels have finished their preparations.

"We have been sparing no effort in the preparatory work for the Games and have made noticeable progress," said Hu Yabo, executive vice-mayor of Wuhan and deputy head of the Games' executive commission, at a news conference in Beijing earlier this month.

Different from previous Games held in countries such as Italy, Croatia, India, Brazil and South Korea, this year's event will be open for the public to attend, with tickets priced affordably.

"The lowest price will be 10 yuan ($1.50) for each ticket and the highest will be 200 yuan. The average price will be 50 yuan," he said.

Army of helpers

An army of around 30,000 enthusiastic volunteers is raring to welcome guests from all over the world, while an additional 210,000 'city' volunteers have signed up to help visitors in every corner of Wuhan.

"Now I follow the news about the Military World Games every day, and I practice how to say the names of snacks, tourist attractions, and the history and culture of Wuhan in English," said one such volunteer, Wang Yiling, a 29-year-old office worker.

"I even created a document on my computer to help me remember all these translations and phrases. I just hope I can introduce the city well to the athletes and guests from all over the world."

Comprehensive training has been given to the qualified volunteers, who will work directly at the competitions.

Zou Ming, who has worked as a volunteer at 13 international sports events since 2016, has coordinated much of that training.

"This time I'm not serving as a volunteer, but my responsibility is to help others to master the knowledge and skills in volunteering," he said. "This is even more meaningful for me."

New technology will also fuel a smarter Military World Games, including autopilot drones that will take on power-maintenance duties, according to Xinhua.

The drones can autonomously complete long-distance patrol duties along a preset route, and can return without manual guidance after accomplishing their mission.

Another new kind of drone can eliminate the potential danger of a power failure by spraying fire onto flying objects that have landed on electrical lines.

The drones will also replace some workers to maintain the power supply to venues, according to the State Grid Hubei Provincial Company.

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