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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 August, 2003, 14:08 GMT 15:08 UK
China unveils Olympic logo
Hein Verbruggen (l), chairman of the Co-ordination Commission at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Chinese National Peoples Congress Chairman Wu Bangguo (c)
The symbol - to become one of China's greatest assets - has a double meaning

China has unveiled the symbol that is to be used in the 29th Olympic Games in 2008, entitled "Dancing Beijing".

The logo - showing an athlete running to victory against a red backdrop - was revealed in a spectacular ceremony attended by 2,008 of China's national Government and regional officials.

Wang Qishan, a Beijing Communist Party chief, and Hein Verbruggen of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) drew a stamp from the last of a number of boxes and impressed the design on paper.

Winner of about 2,000 internationally submitted designs, the character also has a second meaning - it is the Chinese symbol for "jing" the second word in Beijing, meaning "capital".

In a video address, IOC President Jacques Rogge said the organisation was "happy to note Beijing's organisation and efforts for the forthcoming Olympics" and said the symbol stood to become "one of the country's most valuable assets".

Mr Rogge said the new emblem should be a symbol of great pride for China.

"Your new emblem immediately conveys the awesome beauty and power of China which are embodied in your heritage and your people.

"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 centre of your Games - we are confident that it will achieve the stature of one of the best and most meaningful symbols in Olympic history."

Spectacle

Ceremony organisers pulled out all the stops to use the event to promote China's best internationally-recognised talent.

It was co-ordinated by Chinese film director Zhang Yimou, famous for Hero, and Raise the Red Lantern.

A specially-commissioned short film by Mr Zhang was also screened at the logo's launch.

Hong Kong actor Jackie Chan (r) and China's former table tennis world champion, Deng Yaping (l)
China's international stars were out in force
Also present were Hollywood action hero, Jackie Chan, and China's leading lady, Gong Li, who together spearheaded the ceremony's opening.

The symbol - unveiled to an audience of 400 million TV viewers around the world live from Beijing's Temple of Heaven - is the foundation stone of a multi-billion dollar marketing campaign.

Mr Wang told delegates gathered at the symbol's launch the intellectual property of the symbol was not being underestimated and Beijing would be taking all necessary steps to protect both it and its revenues.

The symbol will be burned into people's consciousness over the next five years through the TV screens, the billboards and the state newspapers.

For China, these games are not just about sport or about sucking in yet more foreign investment, says the BBC's Francis Markus.

They are also about rebuilding the self-esteem of a great nation that feels it has taken a battering at the hands of history, our correspondent says.

He says they are about boosting the prestige of a governing party which has steadily stripped off its Communist ideology and is in constant need of new ways to rally the people around it.


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