Chinese president holds grand luncheon to welcome Olympics guests (Lead)

August 8th, 2008 - 7:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Aug 8 (Xinhua) Chinese President Hu Jintao held a grand luncheon Friday for the heads of state and government, royals, and other eminent guests for the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games Friday night. In his toast, Hu first extended a warm welcome to all the distinguished guests, saying the Beijing Olympics are an opportunity for both China and the world.

“By participating in the Olympic Games, people should carry forward the Olympic spirit of solidarity, friendship and peace, facilitate sincere exchanges among people from all countries, deepen mutual understanding, enhance friendship and rise above differences, and promote the building of a harmonious world featuring lasting peace and common prosperity,” he said .

IOC chief Jacques Rogge and honorary President Juan Antonio Samaranch were among the 110-plus honoured guests who were invited to the luncheon from more than 80 countries and regions.

Chinese top legislator Wu Bangguo, Premier Wen Jiabao, top political advisor Jia Qinglin, Vice President Xi Jinping, Vice Premier Li Keqiang, and other senior Communist Party officials were also present.

“In the course of bidding and preparing for the Olympic Games, the Chinese Government and people received sincere help from governments and people of various countries and strong support from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Olympic family. I would like to express heartfelt thanks to you and, through you, to all those who have contributed to the Beijing Olympic Games,” the Chinese president said.

The Olympic Games are a great sporting event and offer a platform for cultural exchanges. By bringing together people of different countries, ethnic groups and cultural backgrounds, the Olympic Movement has helped enhance mutual understanding and friendship among all peoples, and has made significant contribution to the noble cause of peace and development, Hu said in the toast.

“To host the Olympic Games is a century-old dream of the Chinese nation and the shared aspiration of all the Chinese people,” the Chinese president said. To fulfil that dream, ever since Beijing won the bid in 2001, the Chinese government and people have been working hard to honour the solemn commitment made to the international community,” Hu said.

Guided by the concept of “green Olympics, high-tech Olympics and people’s Olympics,” the Chinese people have done their utmost in the preparations for the Games, said the president.

“I am confident that, with the support of the IOC and the Olympic family, and together with you, we will deliver a high-standard Olympic Games with distinctive feature,” he said.

The luncheon was presided over by Liu Qi, president of the Beijing Organising Committee of the 29th Olympic Games.

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