Olympic Games: China prepares to embrace the freedom of its future – Kevin Eason

From The Times:

Pundits are predicting that the 2008 Olympics will be the most spectacular in the history of the Games as it brings together the cultures of East and West under one banner in a city eager to reach out to the world.

The IOC almost falls over itself with praise for the Chinese authorities, pointing out that China’s zeal has forced it to advise putting a brake on the construction programme. Those of the 37 venues not yet completed will be by next year ” an extraordinary contrast to the 2004 Games in Athens, where concrete was being poured almost as the athletes arrived.

But it is not the stadiums, as exciting as they are, that impress. After all, the budget for the Olympic Stadium in London is not much different from the estimated ¬£246 million being spent on ’s main stadium. It is everything around the fabulous Olympic Park that takes the breath away, as well as the straightforward, uninterrupted march to completion that London will never be able to achieve.

For Beijing is in the middle of a transformation that is affecting every one of its 15 million citizens. [Full text]

See the official Chinese media’s take on this issue, via CCTV:

Chinese President Hu Jintao has visited Olympic construction workers, still on duty during the National Day Holiday. President Hu says the government is determined to make the 2008 Olympic Games a success. He said Chinese people of all ethnic groups share this desire.

Sunday—October first–is China’s National Day. President Hu Jintao chose this day to inspect the construction sites of Olympic sports facilities in the north of Beijing. He was accompanied by State Councilor Chen Zhili and Beijing municipal government officials.

At the sports facilities exhibition center, President Hu expressed satisfaction that the various projects were proceeding smoothly, and he praised everyone’s hard work. He called on them to increase their sense of responsibility, unite and coordinate to make sure everything was just right. [Full text]

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