With new venues and facilities already completed and thousands of volunteers on standby, Beijing is ready for a rehearsal for the 2008 Olympic Games this month.
From August 15 to 20, the city will stage the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Junior Championships, at the newly-renovated Chaoyang Sports Park in eastern Beijing. Although the site will not host Olympic competition events, it will be a training venue for the 2008 Olympics.
In western Beijing, the International Softball Federation's (ISF) 11th Women's World Championships will take place between August 27 and September 5 at the Fengtai Softball Field, an Olympic venue completed last June.
Featuring 44 events, the junior championships will attract about 2,000 athletes from more than 160 countries and regions the largest number of participants in the history of the event.
"With the 2008 Games only two years away, more and more athletes and officials will take this opportunity to get familiar with the venues and atmosphere in Beijing since it will be held at almost the same time as the 2008 Games," said Zhang Jiandong, vice-president of the organizing committee of the event. "Through the organization of such high-level international competition, we can discover problems and accumulate useful experience for preparation of the 2008 Games."
A total of 1,200 local volunteers are prepared for the event, while the hotels that were appointed to provide accommodation for all the athletes, coaches, officials, journalists and suppliers are also ready. Another 374 volunteers have been selected to help at the softball championships.
Since Beijing's successful bid for the athletics championships in late 2003, Chaoyang Sports Park has been renovated to meet the standards required for international competitions.
The central stadium can now hold 10,000 spectators and is equipped with 100 suites for private viewing. A closed-circuit supervision system, fire control systems, broadband network services and large-screen TVs have also been provided. At the west of the stadium, a natural-turf football pitch will function as a warm-up area.
The event will also serve as a testing ground for all aspects of the organization of the Olympic Games, such as reception services, safety and security, transportation, medical care, broadcasting, volunteering and weather forecasting services.
According to officials from the junior championships organizing committee, there will be 15 special bus routes during the event. Temporary traffic control measures will also be in force during the event.
On the other side of the city, the Fengtai Softball Field is the first of the 12 new Olympic venues that will be put into use for the Games in Beijing.
Covering an area of about 15,570 square metres, the venue has two competition grounds and two training fields.
To meet the ISF and International Olympic Committee's standards for competition venues and equipment, 34 environmentally friendly technologies were used in the venue's construction and massive constructions have started on the surrounding roads to ensure smooth public access during the event.
A special bus line will be opened to spectators instead of providing huge parking lots for cars at the site.
Led by leading officials from the local government of Fengtai District, the organizing committee for the championships has about 500 staff from security, media and transportation sectors.
"Every aspect of the preparations is aimed to meet Olympic standards," said Lu Shijie, deputy secretary-general of the organizing committee of the event. "This will be our first opportunity to impress the world about the 2008 Olympic Games. We will try our best to make it a success."
The two events have also spurred efforts to improve the look of areas around the venues.
Since the end of last month, the roadsides of Beijing's Chaoyang District have been decorated with 1 million pots of flowers along 8.7 kilometres of roadway leading from the Workers' Stadium to the competition venue.
Patterns composed of flowers include the 2008 Olympic Emblem, Olympic mascots and the Olympic Five Rings. The most scenic areas are at Workers' Stadium North Gate, Chaoyang Park Bridge, Chaoyang Park's South Gate and in Chaoyang Sports Park.
Near the competition venue, a 1,000-metre-long wall has been painted with 192 cartoons featuring sports. It was completed by 300 students from the Animation School of Communication University of China and the Art Design School of Tsinghua University.
Source: China Daily