BEIJING OLYMPIC GAMES 2008
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The 2008 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, will be held in Beijing, China from August 8, 2008 through August 24, 2008, with the opening ceremony to take place at 8 p.m. on August 8th. The number 8 is associated with prosperity in Chinese culture. Some events, like beach volleyball, sailing, and swimming's new marathon 10km events, will be held in the coastal city of Qingdao.
On July 8, 2005, the International Olympic Committee announced that Hong Kong will hold the equestrian events at the site of the Hong Kong Sports Institute in Fo Tan, Sha Tin. The facilities of the Sports Institute may be moved to Wu Kai Sha. This will be the second time the same edition of Olympic Games has been hosted by two National Olympic Committees. (A similar arrangement was in place between Melbourne, Australia, and Stockholm, Sweden, for the 1956 Summer Olympics.)
Chinese track-and-field superstar Liu Xiang (right) is signed on
to promote Coca-Cola and Visa at the Beijing Olympics
Beijing was elected host city on July 13, 2001, during the 112th IOC Session in Moscow, beating out Toronto, Paris, Istanbul, and Osaka. Prior to the session, five other cities submitted bids to the IOC but failed to make the shortlist in 2000: Bangkok, Cairo, Havana, Kuala Lumpur, and Seville. Beijing previously bid to host the 2000 Summer Olympics but lost out to Sydney in 1993.
The Chinese government intends to invest in the renovation and construction of thirty-six gymnasiums and stadiums as well as fifty-nine training centers. Over 300,000 houses have been demolished and residents relocated thus far in Beijing due to construction in preparation for the 2008 Olympics. Police in Beijing placed many people under arrest for protesting the evictions.
Its largest architectural pieces will be the Beijing National Stadium, National Gymnasium, Olympic Aquatic Park, Convention Center, Olympic Village, and Wukesong Cultural and Sports Center. US $2.1 billion (RMB¥17.4 billion) in corporate bids and tenders are expected to fund almost 85 percent of the construction budget for the six main venues. Investments are expected from corporations seeking ownership rights after the 2008 Summer Olympics. Some venues will be owned and governed by the State General Administration of Sports, which will use them after the Olympics as facilities for all future national sports teams and events.
It was announced on July 8, 2005, that the equestrian events are to be held in Hong Kong because of "uncertainties of equine diseases and major difficulties in establishing a disease-free zone." The five other venues outside of Beijing will be located in Qingdao, Hong Kong, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Qinhuangdao.
List of venues
Beijing National Stadium
The centerpiece of the 2008 Summer Olympics is the construction of the Beijing National Stadium, which began on December 24, 2003. Government officials engaged architects worldwide in a design competition. A Swiss firm, Herzog & de Meuron Architekten AG, collaborated with China Architecture Design & Research Group to win the competition. The National Stadium will feature lattice-like concrete skeleton forming the stadium bowl, which will seat 80,000 people. Architects originally described the overall design as resembling a bird's nest with an immense ocular — an opening with retractable roof over the stadium. However, in 2004 the roof part of the design was abandoned for cost and safety reasons. The Beijing National Stadium will be the site of the Opening Ceremony and Closing Ceremony as well as track and field events and soccer finals.
Built 100 miles north of Hong Kong in the city of Guangzhou, the Guangdong Stadium was opened to the public for the ninth National Games of the People's Republic of China in 2001. It was originally planned to be the centerpiece of the 2008 Summer Olympics until a decision was made to construct the National Stadium in Beijing. The original design for the Guangdong Stadium was announced in 1999. The stadium seats 80,000 people. Taking from Guangzhou's nickname as the Flower City, the American architectural firm of Ellerbe Becket designed Guangdong Stadium to resemble a flower. The design firm stated in its press release, "The stadium bowl grows out of the ground to a sculpted upper edge, like the petals of a flower. Floating above the bowl is a shimmering ribbon of roof flowing like a wave over the seats. It parts at the ends and holds the Olympic flame, suspended between the two ribbons. A hotel surrounds a circular opening in the roof that forms a vertical tower of light, which at night is visible for a great distance. The roof form undulates, making it different from any other stadium in China or the world."
The events programme for the Beijing 2008 Games is quite similar to that of the Athens Games held in 2004. The 2008 Olympics will see the return of 28 sports, and will hold 302 events, one more than in Athens.
Nine new events will be held, including the new cycling discipline of BMX (composed of individual events for men and women). Women will compete in the 3000m steeplechase. Marathon swimming events for men and women, over the distance of 10 kilometers, will be added to the swimming discipline. Team events (men and women) in table tennis will replace the doubles events. In fencing, women's team foil and women's team sabre will replace men's team foil and women's team epee.
In addition to the recognized Olympic sports, some video gamers have recently talked to the Chinese government in hopes of their allowing video games to be a demonstration sport at these games. Demonstration events have not been held at any Olympic Games (Summer or Winter) since 1992. As of June 2006, no further developments in this have occurred.
On August 7, 2006, the day before the 2-year countdown to the Beijing Games, the Beijing Organizing Committee released the pictograms of the 35 Olympic disciplines. Each pictogram is designed so that people of nations around the world will be able to recognize the different sports played at that Olympic Games. This set of sport icons is names the beauty of seal characters, so called because of each pictogram's likeness to Chinese seal script.
List of sports
(The number of events contested in each sport is indicated in parentheses.)
The 2008 Summer Olympics emblem entitled "Dancing Beijing" was unveiled in August 2003 in a ceremony attended by 2,008 people at Qin Nian Dian (祈年殿) — the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests in Beijing's Temple of Heaven (天壇 or 天坛). The emblem combines elements of traditional Chinese society — a red seal and a calligraphic word for jing (京) ("national capital") with athletic features. The open arms of the calligraphic word symbolizes the invitation of China to the world to share in its culture. According to the International Olympic Committee, the emblem is the first of the modern Olympics to use red as the dominant colour, an important colour for the Chinese people throughout its history. However, the emblems for the 1980 Moscow Olympics and 1964 Tokyo Olympics both feature red very prominently, so it is unclear how this claim is justified.
IOC president Jacques Rogge delivered an address at the unveiling ceremony saying, "Your new emblem immediately conveys the awesome beauty and power of China which are embodied in your heritage and your people." Rogge continued, "In this emblem, I saw the promise and potential of a New Beijing and a Great Olympics. This is a milestone in the history of your Olympic quest. As this new emblem becomes known around the world — and as it takes its place at the center of your Games — we are confident that it will achieve the stature of one of the best and most meaningful symbols in Olympic history."
The Fuwa (Chinese: 福娃; pinyin: Fúwá) were unveiled as the mascots of the games by the National Society of Chinese Classic Literature Studies on November 11, 2005, at an event marking the 1000th day before the opening of the games.
Fuwa consists of five members: Beibei, Jingjing, Huanhuan, Yingying, and Nini. The five mascots incorporate fish, giant panda, fire, Tibetan antelope, and swallow designs respectively, and each also represents one of the five Olympic Rings. When the five names are put together, they form a pun on the phrase 北京欢迎你 (Běijīng huānyíng nǐ) which means "Beijing welcomes you".
On June 26, 2005, The Beijing Olympic Committee announced that the slogan for the 2008 Olympics will be "One World, One Dream." (Simplified Chinese: 同一个世界 同一个梦想, Traditional Chinese: 同一個世界 同一個夢想)
The Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee publicized in early August 2006 that it will sell over 7 million tickets for various sporting events and ceremonies to the general public. The chief of the committee said that she hopes that all the Chinese have a chance to come to the games. The committee has, therefore, set the admission prices for events "very, very cheap" to encourage the Chinese to become involved in the Olympics.
In addition to the public, other tickets are set aside for sponsors, officials, and members of the IOC. Tickets to contracted corporate clients will be sold in September 2006, while tickets for the general public will not go on sale until early 2007.
Twenty-eight cities around the world will be chosen to receive the global phase—the torch's tour around the globe - of the Olympic Flame's relay. In addition, 78 cities will receive the torch on the domestic phase through China.
Presented to the IOC in Moscow was the plan for a torch relay route that will take the Olympic flame through the sites of the great ancient civilizations—Greece, Italy, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, India and finally, China - although the route through the Middle East may not be guaranteed due to the political climate in the region. The 2008 Summer Olympics torch relay will achieve a world record as eighty specially trained mountaineers carry the Olympic flame to the top of Mount Everest (known to the Tibetans as Chomolangma; Simplified Chinese: 珠穆朗玛峰, Traditional Chinese: 珠穆朗瑪峰), making it the highest altitude achieved in the history of Olympic torch relays. It will be carried up the southern slope from Nepal before carried down the northern slope into the Tibet Autonomous Region.
Liu Qi, president of the 2008 Olympics organizing committee, has also expressed the wish that the torch relay be carried through Taiwan. Although the organizing committee has the relay mostly planned out, the IOC states that the torch relay route will not be decided until early 2007. The overall course of the torch relay, though, should take the Olympic flame from Athens in March 2008 through the Himalayas to Beijing and will be sponsored by soft drink giant, The Coca-Cola Company alongside South Korean electronic giant Samsung.
Participating National Olympic Committees (NOCs)
It is expected that the vast majority of the 202 competing nations in Athens 2004 will return, plus the recently accepted NOC of Marshall Islands should be expected at the Olympic Games increasing the number to 204.
The nations of Serbia and Montenegro will compete separately. The citizens of Montenegro voted in a referendum to sever their political union with Serbia in May 2006.
In July 2007, the Netherlands Antilles will be dissolved, Curaçao and St. Maarten will receive a Status Aparte, the same political status that Aruba has had since 1986. Bonaire, Saba, and St. Eustatius will have direct relations with the Netherlands as Kingdom Islands. BBC There is a possibility that Curaçao will be competing at the 2008 Olympics after inheriting the Netherlands Antilles NOC.
Concerns surround the participation of the Republic of China on Taiwan, represented as Chinese Taipei in Olympic functions. ROC president Chen Shui-bian's term does not expire until May 2008, and strained relations between the Republic of China and the People's Republic of China governments have led to fears that a Taiwan boycott may occur in 2008.
The National Olympic Committee of Macao, China has not been accepted by the IOC as a member, although already a member of the Olympic Council of Asia. It is unlikely that Macao will participate at the 2008 Summer Olympics.
It seems very unlikely (close to impossible) that the Vatican City will enter. However, the entrance of Tuvalu (the remaining nation besides Marshall Islands that were not present at the 2004 Summer Olympics) is an open possibility provided that the country establishes a National Olympic Committee prior to IOC deadlines. Tuvalu has met with IOC president Jacques Rogge, and he seems happy enough that in 2007 at the IOC meeting Tuvalu will be voted into becoming a full Olympic member.
A South Korea news agency has announced that South Korea and North Korea will discuss sending a united team to the 2008 Olympics. The two NOCs met with IOC president Jacques Rogge on September 5, 2006, to discuss the possibility of doing so.
The Sports House, the administration centre of the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, was renamed Hong Kong Olympic House on July 11, 2005. The Chairman of the International Olympic Committee and Timothy Fok, the chairman of the National Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, held the Olympic House Opening Ceremony and the IOC permitted the use of the emblem of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
The Beijing municipal authority declared on April 10, 2006, that more than 70 local laws and decrees would be made before the 2008 summer Olympics. These laws and decrees include banishing local people who don't have Hukou of Beijing; banishing vagrants, beggars, and people with mental illness from the city; strengthening border control; forcible "special holiday", or forcible shutout, to make Beijing citizens stay at home during the Olympics; strengthening controls over Chinese and foreign NGOs; and forbidding any protests. The government has also strengthened laws relating to prosecution of those deemed to be disseminating material not beneficial to the state.
Beijing 2008 will be broadcast worldwide by a number of television broadcasters. Confirmed broadcasters include:
In preparation for the games, Beijing's subway system is currently undergoing a major expansion that will more than double its existing size. The system currently is composed of four lines and 64 stations. An additional seven lines and more than eighty new stations are being constructed - including a direct link to Beijing Capital International Airport - most of which are set to open on July 30, 2008, just over one week prior to the beginning of the games.
Boycotts occur at many Olympic Games by groups of protestors, activists, or political groups who have grievances against the hosting country. Sometimes these boycotts are sanctioned by member states, such as in the 1980 and 1984. While no state has indicated a willingness to boycott the 2008 games, some groups are initiating independent campaigns to do so.
Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) and affiliated pro-Tibetan independence groups have initiated a campaign to boycott the 2008 Summer Olympics. Among its other complaints concerning China's policies in Tibet, SFT is protesting the Chinese government's use of the Tibetan antelope (chiru) as one of its five mascots. SFT claims that this is propaganda to legitimize Chinese rule of Tibet and that this goes against the Olympic spirit. Similarly, disputes over the political status of the Republic of China on Taiwan have caused many to speculate the extent of participation of Taiwan's national team, represented in IOC events as Chinese Taipei.
Some environmental groups have called for a boycott of the 2008 Summer Olympics after it was reported that the Chinese government placed an order for US$1 billion on 800,000 cubic meters of Merbau hardwood from the endangered rainforests of Indonesia's Papua province to be used in the construction of the games. Rainforest activist groups claim that this is against Olympic ideals of respecting universal moral principles.
Some athletes, especially swimmers, have voiced dissatisfaction with the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) decision to schedule some events to meet the needs of NBC, which paid US $3.5 billion for exclusive U.S. broadcasting rights to the winter and summer games from 2000 through 2008. NBC requested that popular events, such as swimming, athletics, basketball, and gymnastics, be broadcast live and during television primetime in the U.S. (i.e., 6 to 9 p.m.) for maximum advertising revenue. This would require events to be held in the early morning, Beijing time. The IOC granted the request concerning swimming and gymnastics but denied it for athletics and basketball. There is precedent for the IOC's decision. At the 1988 Seoul games, some swimming, gymnastics, and athletics finals were held in the morning. Some athletes, however, believe that their training schedules allow them to perform more effectively in the early evening. 
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