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Young City, Big Party

By YU LINTAO (Beijing Review)

10:31, August 29, 2011

OUT WITH A BANG: The closing ceremony of the 26th World University Games is held in Shenzhen on August 23 (GONG LEI)

With none of the usual hoop-la, no fireworks, no grand performances by celebrities and superstars, the Shenzhen Summer Universiade lowered the curtain on a big party for youth and college students on August 23.

The 26th World University Games held from August 12-23 was meant to be different. Shenzhen, the host city in south China's Guangdong Province situated immediately north of Hong Kong, is known for leading China's reform and opening-up efforts with a number of social and economic experiments in the past 30 years. During the Shenzhen Universiade, it applied its pioneering spirit to present a worldwide audience with a sporting event different from previous ones in China. It succeeded and was applauded for its handling of the 12-day international event.

"Shenzhen often explore new ways of doing things and solving problems. In holding such an international event, we are also trying a new approach," said Wang Rong, Secretary of the Shenzhen Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China and Vice President of the Shenzhen Universiade Organizing Committee (SUOC) at a press conference in Shenzhen on July 15.

From the outset, the Shenzhen Universiade showed its intention to be distinctive. The city vowed to make a difference and be economical in every detail of the preparation, organization and volunteer work. It built eco-friendly sports stadiums, staged low-key ceremonies, rented office desks and chairs for the running of venues, and replaced a costly real torch relay with a virtual one on the Internet.

And Shenzhen, a young city known for its vitality, creativity and emphasis on public services, also found a way to mesh its dashing spirit of innovation with that of the Universiade, a sports event for university student athletes from across the world to compete and communicate with each other. It held conferences and forums, gave concerts and all kinds of performances, and promoted knowledge among visitors and athletes about each other everywhere from the Universiade Village to the city's streets.

Thrifty and green

While the ceremonies set the tone for Shenzhen to hold a low-carbon, passionate and responsible event, the virtual torch relay echoed its pledge not to compete with other events in extravagance.

The budget for a torch relay was cut from 80 million yuan ($12.3 million) to 15 million yuan ($2.3 million), thanks to the decision to slash the number of changeovers at 50 universities to three and stage the rest online.

"We saved money and had a creative online torch relay. Through the online relay, the torch reached more than 1,000 universities throughout China, and nearly 9 million people participated in the relay," said Zhao Guanghua, the SUOC officer who was in charge of the relay activity.

Eco-friendly design is visible everywhere in the Universiade Village.

"It is really interesting, and quite environmentally friendly," said Spanish athlete Lidia Morant Varo, after learning about the automatic garbage recycling management system in the village, which disposes of 6.3 tons of waste automatically every day. The process is free of any pollution as it is completely sealed. The system not only saves manpower, space and resources, but also prevents any associated odor from dispersing, secondary pollution and pest reproduction.

Finnish weightlifter Petteri Heinonen was interested in the design of the balcony shower rooms in the dorms. "At the beginning, I felt it was so strange. Now I think this design is really great, makes full use of the balcony space and keeps water vapor out of the rooms," said Heinonen about having these facilities in a city like Shenzhen that has hot and humid summer conditions.

Lebanese athletes Ramsey Nasser and Rachid Idriss were surprised when they learnt the 24-hour hot water in their dorms was supplied by the ubiquitous solar energy facilities of the village. The entire eastern area of the Universiade Village was equipped with a 7,318-square-meter solar thermal collector, which provided 1,075 tons of hot water on average daily.

"It is really worth studying," they said.

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