With over seven million spectators expected over the two week period of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG) and government police bureaus have been preparing meticulously to make sure everything runs smoothly.
Some 31 Olympic venues are being built in the capital that will cost over US$2 billion. The National “bird’s nest” Stadium, which features an eye-catching lattice network design, will seat 91,000 spectators and be the jewel in the crown of Beijing 2008.
The city’s transport infrastructure is also being revamped – plans are in the pipeline to double the existing system’s size with the addition of seven lines and more than 80 new stations, including a direct link to the Beijing Airport.
New information screens on public transportation will include all the latest news related to the games, updated throughout the day. For direct links between the Olympic venues themselves, Beijing has designated 38 official public transit routes.
A successful Olympics is the highest priority for face-conscious China, and organizers are using the Games to boost China’s image. In response to the international criticisms of a polluted Beijing, BOCOG is prompting a steady stream of “green” proclamations and developments to make the games pleasant environment for visitors and athletes.
One of BOCOG’s green developments is the 680-hectare Olympic Forest Park, where trees are being planted and a wetland habitat is being developed to attract wildlife. Around 70% of the water used in the park will be from recycled rainwater.
BOCOG President Liu Qi said he wanted to improve air quality, revamp river and lake waters and recycle waste water to promote the concept of a “Green Olympics.”
In a related development, food safety for athletes is being placed at the top of the agenda.
The Chinese government has guaranteed the absolute safety of all Olympics foodstuffs in a five-year plan to allay rising public dissatisfaction and “significantly reduce the number of incidents caused by substandard food or drug products” by 2010.
Best foot forward
A “rectification campaign” to correct badly-translated English signs and reduce visitor confusion is also underway in the capital, as is a drive to improve the behavior of Beijing residents.
New rules and regulations have also been put in place to make Beijing more visitor-friendly. This April, the municipal government announced more than 70 new laws that would come into effect before the games. According to state media, the new guidelines include restricting the number of Chinese citizens living in Beijing without proper resident permits, laws that ban begging, and prohibition of public demonstrations in Olympic areas.
The BOCOG estimated the Olympics security measures to cost approximately US$300 million, with 90,000 policemen expected to be called on for the games.
The Chinese authorities will be faced with the tricky task of trying to ensure a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere of sporting celebration pervades for fans and spectators, whilst maintaining vigilance against any acts deemed inappropriate.