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Rogge Impressed by Showpiece Olympic Venues
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International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge said he was very impressed by what he saw during an inspection tour of the venues for the 2008 Games on Tuesday.

"It is, in my opinion, one of the icons in the world," Rogge told reporters on the construction site of the National Stadium, which will host the opening and closing ceremonies and athletics events during the 2008 Games.

"It will leave a fantastic legacy to Beijing," he added.

Rogge was shown around the 91,000-seat stadium, known as the "Bird's Nest" for its giant latticework structure of metal girders, and the National Acquatics Center, dubbed the "Water Cube".

"It's even more impressive from the inside than from the outside, " he said.

Earlier, the IOC chief paid tribute to the local organizers for their magnificent work but urged them to stay focused in the future.

"They all tell me how impressed they are with the progress that our Chinese friends are making in developing the Beijing 2008 project," Rogge told the plenary session of the IOC's Coordination Commission meeting, referring to the feedback from athletes and the wider world of sport and from the IOC coordinators.

"This progress was seen recently, as BOCOG successfully held several events that will ultimately help the Beijing Games succeed: the 1st World Broadcasters' Meeting, the 1st World Press Briefing, and of course, the recent sailing and softball test events."

However, Rogge, who had served as the chief IOC coordinator for Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004, also warned against complacency.

"Despite the great progress that BOCOG has so far been able to achieve, my experience throughout my Olympic career has been that it is extremely important not to take your eye off the ball, because it is often in the moments when you lose your focus that mistakes can creep in," he said.

"I would therefore encourage BOCOG and the Chinese authorities to continue working diligently, as they currently are, towards hosting very successful Games."

Rogge also underlined how Beijing 2008 would allow a much greater level of understanding to be created not just between the IOC and BOCOG, but also between China and the rest of the world.

"As we get closer to the start date of the Games of 8 August 2008, I hope that the relationship between our two organizations will continue to grow and strengthen, as it has during the past five years," said the Belgian.

"Indeed, these Games will allow a greater level of mutual understanding to be created, not just between BOCOG and the IOC, but also between China and the rest of the world, as the world starts to discover this nation with 5,000 years of history, thanks to the exposure that the Games bring to the host city and country."

(Xinhua News Agency October 25, 2006)

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