With only 477 days left until the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, IOC Coordination Commission Chairman Hein VERBRUGGEN underlined that time is of the essence as anticipation grows and the eyes of the world increasingly focus on Beijing. The Coordination Commission, which has assisted BOCOG in over six years of preparations, is due to visit Beijing twice more before the Games begin.
'The world is watching and waiting, eager to see what Beijing and China have to offer and anticipating what can be achieved through hosting the Olympic Games,' VERBRUGGEN said. 'This puts a great responsibility on their shoulders, but I believe in them and their ability to show the world the potential of their country and their people in the 21st century.'
Commenting on the eighth visit of the Commission, BOCOG President Liu QI pointed out, '2007 is a critical year in the preparations for the Olympic Games. In line with the directives of the Chinese government and President Hu Jintao, BOCOG is making great efforts to deliver more detailed and efficient preparatory work for the 2008 Games.'
The 26 test events scheduled this year will be an important tool for BOCOG to fine-tune preparations and make improvements in advance of 2008. The second test event for the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition, the 2007 Qingdao International Regatta, takes places from 9-24 August.
'Test events this summer are a crucial opportunity the organizers must use to test how operations, planned for so long, will actually work in practice,' explained VERBRUGGEN. 'There will be a year to make any refinements if necessary,' he added.
During review meetings held by the Coordination Commission, operational issues such as technology, medical services, transport, accommodation, human resources and the environment were addressed. Regarding human resources, VERBRUGGEN explained, 'We are encouraged to see that BOCOG plans to recruit staff with Games experience. This will complement their already existing high-quality team.' In the environment meeting, Commission members were briefed on current programmes in Beijing to host environmentally sustainable Games and on contingency plans being drawn up to ensure optimal air quality in August 2008. Chairman VERBRUGGEN remarked that numerous completed initiatives are serving as best practices for Beijing residents.
In addition to permanent benefits through the creation of green areas, such as the 680-hectare forestry project near the airport and Olympic venues, and strict reductions in industrial pollution emissions, Beijing government officials have also reported an initiative to reduce traffic circulation during the Games. Many of the initiatives are part of comprehensive Games bid objectives established by BOCOG and local authorities in 2001 to ensure that athletes of the world are able to compete in the best possible conditions.
Commission members also reviewed services for client groups, including athletes and National Olympic Committees, media, spectators, the Olympic Family, International Federations, sponsors and the Paralympics Games. The Commission learnt that the Games volunteer recruitment had attracted over 450,000 applications. In another countdown milestone, tickets for the Games went on sale this past Sunday.
The Olympic Sailing Competition will take place in Qingdao from the 9-21 August, with the Medal Races taking place from 16-21 August. 22-23 August are scheduled as reserve days. Gold medals will be decided in eleven Olympic sailing events, featuring a total of 400 sailors.
Find out more at the ISAF Beijing 2008 Olympic Games microsite - www.sailing.org/olympics2008.
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