Beijing readies for ‘green and safe’ Olympics

July 7th, 2008 - 8:51 pm ICT by IANS  

By Pranay Sharma
Beijing, July 7 (IANS) With security posing as major a challenge as clean environment, China is taking all steps to ensure that Beijing 2008 is not only a “green Olympic” but also a “safe Olympic”. Both these aspects on equal measures are being emphasised by the Chinese leadership in the run-up to the Games scheduled to start Aug 8.

China is expecting nearly 1.5 million people for the Games, and nearly 500,000 from outside the country. With global political figures like US President George W. Bush and a host of other heads of governments and states planning to come for the inaugural programme beginning in a month’s time, the Chinese government is leaving nothing to chance.

“In general terms, China is a safe country and so is Beijing,” Sun Weide, deputy director for communications of the Beijing Organising Committee for the Games (BOCOG), said Monday.

“We oppose politicisation of the Olympics, it should be used to promote friendship and cultural and civilisational harmony,” he added.

Asked what China would do to prevent possible demonstration by Tibetan supporters during the Games, Sun bluntly pointed out that article 51 of the Olympic Charter makes it clear that “no demonstrations for political, religious and racial issues will be allowed”.

He said Chinese authorities were in close consultation with international agencies like Interpol and the UN organisations to ensure there was no security breach.

More than 5,000 security personnel will be pressed into service and over 100,000 volunteers have been chosen from different parts of China to assist the security and ensure the Olympics not only go off without a hitch but also become a great success.

“It is a dream for us and we are willing to do everything to see we have a great Olympics,” Yaodong, a 19-year-old student from the coastal town of Dalian, told IANS while taking a break from his security drill at the sprawling Olympic Games village.

He and thousands of students like him have come from different parts of the country to work as volunteers for the big event.

The spectacular “Bird’s Nest” stadium, which can seat 91,000 people and will host the inaugural ceremony and most of the tracks and fields events, stands ready.

So does the equally breath-taking “Water Cube”, the indoor stadium for the aquatic events next door, or the multi-storied media centre and all other buildings in the Village.

China is expecting nearly 30,000 mediapersons from all over the world for the Beijing Olympics. There are 37 venues for the fortnight long event, with more than 31 of them to be held in Beijing while the rest in other parts of the country.

More than 90 percent of the seven million tickets for the 302 events of the Olympic Games have already been sold as China expects participation from 185 countries for the grand show.

It has adopted a “low price ticketing” policy to ensure that larger number of people can watch the Olympics. More than 50 percent of the tickets are priced at or below 100 yuans - roughly $15.

Moreover, to allow maximum number of students to watch the Games it is offering the tickets to them at a special price of 5 to 10 yuans - that is less or a little above one dollar.

Environment had been one of the major concerns many of the participating countries had expressed for the Beijing Olympics. Since being awarded the Games in 2001, China has taken a number of steps to reduce pollution in Bejing.

“More than 200 factories have either been shut down or relocated in the past years as part of our drive to improve the environment,” Sun said.

A number of other measures that include keeping half of the private and government vehicles off the road from later this month and encouraging residents to use the public transport to ease the pressure on traffic in Beijing, are being undertaken by authorities.

“China has waited for nearly 100 years to host the Olympics. We will ensure it is a success and remains a memorable event,” he added.

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