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Two Sessions Address Olympic Concerns
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With the Beijing Olympics edging ever closer, 2007 will provide one of the final opportunities for discussion about the Games across the spectrum such as public manners and food safety. Deputies to the National People's Congress (NPC) and members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) who are in Beijing attending their annual sessions shared their opinions on how to best ensure China hosts a successful Olympiad.

With only 500 or so days to go until the opening ceremony, the matter most concerning the delegates has not been venue construction or infrastructure development, both of which are progressing apace, but improving manners among the general population.

Former Chinese female ping pong champion and current CPPCC member, Deng Yaping, addressed infrastructure development and venue construction, saying that work was going well and had both been praised by the International Olympic Committee.

"Services are the last thing that we are concerned about. China will welcome over 500,000 foreign visitors during the Beijing Olympics and accommodating all of them will be a tough challenge," said Deng, who has been appointed as the deputy director of the 2008 Olympic Village.

"When playing and studying abroad, I was sometimes cheated by local cab drivers who overcharged me due to being a foreigner. The practice disgusted me and still does today," she said, calling upon all Chinese to help give China a good image during the 2008 Games.

Former speed skating world champion Ye Qiaobo, now a CPPCC member, further called upon spectators to improve their manners.

"During the sixth Winter Asiad in Changchun last month, Chinese audiences only egged on their own athletes and sometimes heckled competitors from other nations. I witnessed this personally and am afraid of seeing it again at the Beijing Olympics," Ye recalled.

Shi Ying, an NPC deputy from Liaoning Province, backed Ye by saying that the measure of a successful Olympics was in showcasing a country's civilization and spirit rather than in lavish decors or in medal hauls.

Calling on local people to improve their English, CPPCC member and BOCOG executive vice president Li Binghua extolled his hopes to see at least half of Beijing residents able to hold a brief conversation with foreigners in 2008.

Discussing the progress of mainland sports programs, CPPCC member and president of the Hong Kong Olympic Committee Timothy Fok outlined several systematic obstacles that continue to impair sports development on the mainland and encouraged establishing a mechanism similar to that extant in Hong Kong. Fok added that such a mechanism, aptly considering both marketing operations and enterprise management, would reap benefits on the mainland mirroring the great achievements seen in Hong Kong.

As for food safety during the Games, BOCOG President Liu Qi sought to allay fears on the sidelines of the ongoing NPC session. "A catering work supervision group has been created up to oversee food safety during the Games and to ensure no additives are used which could potentially lead to doping problems," he said.

Test events held in the second half of this year will address the issue of traceability in food safety, seeking to further set minds at rest.

(China.org.cn by Li Xiao, March 13, 2007)

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