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Beijing Keeps Its Word in Game Preparations

Beijing, the rising metropolis busy bidding for the 2008 Olympics, is about to make good its vow to turn the 21st Universiade into a global multi-sports gala of unprecedented scale and with a distinctive Chinese flair.

"It is the first time for Beijing to hold a world multi-sports meet, but we are confident to prove to the world that Beijing is fully capable of hosting any kind of large-scale world sports event by making the 2001 Universiade the best ever," Beijing Vice-Mayor Liu Jingmin, executive deputy secretary-general of the Universiade organizing committee, pledged as early as 1999 in a report to the International Universiade Sports Federation (FISU).

Indeed, the capital city has spared no efforts to keep its promise for the event, to be held from August 22 to September 2.

To hold the 13th Asiad in 1990, Beijing built up well-equipped gymnasiums and stadiums, as well as the doping test centre at the National Olympic Centre.

But to do better in preparing for the Universiade - and to show the sincerity of the 2008 Olympics bid - Beijing kicked off a vast programme early last year to build seven new gymnasiums and stadiums and to renovate the 45 existing ones.

That work is now done.

Several facilities, including the Tsinghua Diving Gymnasium, the Workers' Stadium, the Capital Gymnasium and the National Olympic Centre, were built or renovated in accordance with Olympic standards.

A sports village built at the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics was designed specifically for the Universiade, the first in the event's history. It is due to be completed next month and can accommodate up to 8,000 athletes in 3,522 rooms covering 187,000 square metres. The rooms have air conditioning and private bathrooms.

Organizers expect participation to hit a record for the event, exceeding the 5,700 athletes from 162 countries or regions who came to the Fukuoka Universiade in 1995.

Besides facilities, an army of 50,000 volunteers are in place to prove the hospitality of the city. Most are students at universities across the nation who will serve as interpreters, guides and ushers during games. "To guarantee a smooth, fair competition, we have also drawn out detailed plans to provide weather reports, medical services and referee trainings," said Sun Kanglin, deputy secretary-general of the organizing committee. "Our staff examined the usual weather conditions in Beijing during that period in recent years to help athletes from around the world prepare." The media centre, situated at the Beijing International Conference Centre, will cater to journalists from around the world.

The 21st Universiade torch-passing relay, which started May 5 and will conclude on August 22, will cross 31 provinces and the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions before returning Beijing.

The Universiade holy torch actually comes from a compound of the sacred flames collected from Massy University of New Zealand, Peking University and the first Universiade torch brought to Beijing from Turin of Italy.

As an old Chinese saying goes like "a good start contributes to half of the success", Universiade organizers attached great importance to the opening ceremony, which will feature on multi-cultural characteristics and high technology.

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