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  Wednesday, 4 July, 2001, 14:56 GMT 15:56 UK
Second time lucky
The Temple of Heaven
Beijing will try to light up the 2008 Olympics
By BBC World Service
Sports Correspondent Harry Peart.

Although China was not accepted into the Olympic movement until 1979, this is the second time that the world's most populous country has bid for an Olympic Games.

Seven years ago in Monte Carlo, and against the wishes of IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch, Beijing suffered defeat by Sydney for the right to stage the 2000 Games.

Unlike the successful 2008 bid, it lost by just two votes after leading in the early rounds of the election process.

Signs for Beijing's bid
Beijing has been getting its message across

The disappointment was intense, but after a period of reflection the capital city decided to try its luck again - and this time the fireworks weren't wasted when the result was delivered.

To secure the Games, Beijing and the Chinese government agreed a substantial budget of more than US$14bn.

There are few venues that are currently up to standard, so the centre of the sporting side of the bid is a giant Olympic Park (or what the Committee call an Olympic Green) on the northern outskirts of the city, and on an axis with some of Beijing's notable landmarks such as the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.

At the moment the site is a mixture of fields, old buildings and a few homes, but the vision is to turn the land into a futuristic sports complex of stadiums, facilities, lakes and greenery.

Beijing's planned swimming centre
Beijing's planned swimming centre

There will also be an exhibition centre and a trade centre featuring two huge skyscrapers.

The exact height hasn't been decided, but the planners have ideas to overshadow the twin Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur which are currently the highest in the world.

The Park will contain the venues for 15 sports and the Athletes Village. The other sites are scattered around the city, including some of the venues used for the 1990 Asian Games, which will be upgraded.

Beijing will also need massive investment in transport, but the planners are prepared to build more than 200 kilometres of new roads, five new metro lines and a third runway and another terminal at the airport.

'Unique legacy'

Beijing's rate of development is so massive that building for an Olympics represents only 10 per cent of the city's construction plans spread over seven years.

Because of its reputation as a highly polluted city, Beijing has put in progress a US$12bn clean-up operation which features the removal of some factories, conversion of businesses from coal to gas and a major tree-planting campaign which includes the Great Wall.

Although the IOC's Evaluation Commission had little concrete to see, apart from models and plans, it left confident that the city could stage an excellent Games.

And in its summary, it became effusive by declaring that a Beijing Games would leave a unique legacy to China and to sport.

A visit to Beijing | Clickable cities guide


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