Beijing marks 500 days to Olympics

World Olympic body lauds Beijing's enthusiasm in making the Games a success.

    The clock is ticking towards the Beijing
    Olympic Games on March 27, 2008 [EPA]

    Ahead of schedule
    "I have learnt through my Olympic experience that test events are the key to the success of the games," Rogge said.
    He said the construction of 31 Beijing-based venues and other infrastructure was far ahead of schedule and "progressing at a tremendous pace".
    "When walking through the streets of Beijing, the pride and enthusiasm of its people is palpable."
    But a major concern for the organisers, who have mostly shunned foreign expertise, has been dirty air and chaotic traffic.
    Both the issues will top the agenda when the IOC's co-ordination commission meets organisers in mid-April, Rogge said.
    He said the test events would show the level of preparation.
    "It is important, however, that these [test] events are not treated on their own but as part of an integrated preparation for the games."
    Cleaner environment

    "I think it is also important to remember that environmental challenges are not new to the Olympic Games"

    Jacques Rogge, IOC president

    Rogge lauded Beijing officials for moving steel and chemical plants out of the city, and for planting 533 hectares of trees and shrubs around the airport and Olympic venues.
    He said 90 per cent of the capital's sewage was now being treated at new plants.
    "I think it is also important to remember that environmental challenges are not new to the Olympic Games," he said.
    "In Athens, for example, there were issues of heat, and the Los Angeles and Seoul Olympic games had challenges with air quality."
    The Olympics venues are the catalyst for some new construction, but they make up a minuscule portion of the construction around the capital, where a new skyscraper is topped out each week.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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