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Olympic budget boosted to $2b
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The budget for the 2008 Beijing Olympics has been increased from $1.6 billion to $2 billion to finance enhanced security measures, a top official said on Friday.

Liu Jingmin, executive vice-president of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG), was speaking on the sidelines of the 17th Communist Party of China National Congress.

The revised figure is still short of the $2.4 billion spent on the Athens Olympics in 2004, said Liu, who is also the vice-mayor of Beijing.

He promised the city will stage "an absolutely safe and secure Games".

With security at the very top of the agenda, a high-level command system involving several authorities, including the Ministry of Public Security and the armed forces, has been established, Liu said.

He said the BOCOG is also in regular contact with international organizations, former Olympic host countries and foreign embassies to China to help ensure a safe Games.

Also, the rising value of the yuan had contributed to the need for a new budget, he said.

At the press conference, Liu said he was determined to keep political issues out of the Games.

"Any political issue that has nothing to do with the Olympics shall not be linked to them," he said, adding that any attempt to boycott the event using a political excuse would be both "inappropriate and unpopular".

He said he believed the Games will greatly improve understanding and friendship between Chinese and other people around the world.

"As the organizer of the 2008 Games, we advocate the Olympic spirit and carry forward the guidelines of peace, friendship and development. We want the Games to be the world's gathering of peace and friendship," he said.

With regard to environmental concerns, Liu said the city has honored its commitments for a Green Olympiad.

"Over the past few years, the city has moved 167 factories to more remote areas, while helping them with technical innovations to reduce emissions," Liu said.

However, he said authorities in Beijing have yet to decide whether to suspend the operation of factories in surrounding areas during the Games.

As well as the environmental benefits, the preparations for the Olympics have boosted the country's human rights development tremendously, he said.

"People's rights are better protected and have improved in this process," he said, adding that quality of life and the environment have greatly improved in Beijing.

The BOCOG is also honoring its commitment to the International Olympic Committee by being more accessible to foreign journalists, Liu said.

Other points Liu made include:

600,000 jobs have been created every year since preparations for the Olympics began in 2001.

The programs for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games have been finalized and rehearsals are under way.

Construction of 27 of the 37 venues has been completed, with nine more set to be finished by the end of the year.

The National Stadium (Bird's Nest) will be ready in March.

Source:China Daily
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