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Page last updated at 14:17 GMT, Monday, 4 August 2008 15:17 UK

Rogge hails 'milestone' Olympics

Jacques Rogge
Rogge says the Games are a historic chance for China

International Olympic Committee chief Jacques Rogge says the Beijing Olympics can be a milestone in Chinese history.

Speaking at the General Assembly of the IOC, he avoided mention of contentious issues such as pollution and media freedom but did allude to "challenges."

"China is a nation in transition, with a great future, tremendous potential and some challenges," he said.

"I think history will view the Games as a significant milestone in China's remarkable transformation."

A record 205 teams will compete at the Games, with a global audience of one billion television viewers expected to watch Friday's opening ceremony.

Chinese president Hu Jintao also addressed the meeting, saying sport was playing a major role in speeding up change in the country as a whole.

"It is our hope that through the Games, we can show the world the sincere aspiration of the Chinese people to share the benefits of development and to join with the rest of the world in building a bright future," he said.

Liu Qi, the president of the Games' organizing committee, said the Olympics had transformed the Chinese capital.

"All venues and facilities are now in operation, and all staff are in their posts," he said.

"Volunteers and Beijing residents are greeting athletes and friends from all over the world with welcoming smiles. Now we are proud to say Beijing is ready."

see also
Radcliffe confident for marathon
04 Aug 08 |  Athletics
Blatter welcomes GB football team
04 Aug 08 |  Football
Bolt plots Beijing sprint double
02 Aug 08 |  Athletics
IOC denies deal on internet curbs
02 Aug 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Olympics to 'rebound from crisis'
10 Apr 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Rogge admits Beijing air concern
09 Apr 08 |  Olympics

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