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Games village ready to welcome athletes
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10:28, July 26, 2008

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· Beijing 2008 Olympic Games
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Everything is ready to welcome athletes, coaches and officials from over 200 national and regional Olympic committees at the Beijing Olympic Village, which opens officially on Sunday.

"Our goal is to provide a safe, comfortable and friendly environment for the guests," Chinese table tennis legend Deng Yaping, the spokeswoman of the Olympic Village, said.

"We want the village to be a cozy place that makes athletes feel at home."

The village is a sprawling complex of 42 apartment buildings located on the northern end of the central axis that runs through the city.

During the Games, it will accommodate 16,000 athletes and officials, each of whom will receive a welcome letter from the Village Mayor Chen Zhili, who is also vice-chairwoman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.

A total of 150 officials from 46 countries and regions have arrived at the village since last Sunday to make preparations for the athletes' arrival.

"At present, everything is going well," Deng said, adding that the services offered in the village had been highly praised by the overseas officials already staying there.

To highlight the Chinese cultural element, the buildings are decorated with Chinese paper-cuts and pictures drawn by Chinese and foreign children with environmentally friendly paper and materials.

A special Chinese Learning Center will also be set up in the village, at which athletes can learn simple Chinese, get a Chinese name and learn some Chinese calligraphy.

In line with the requirements of the International Olympic Committee, a religious center has been set up in the village. Major religions - Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism and Judaism - all have worship rooms and other religious groups can also hold activities in the meditation rooms in the center.

Some 100 foreign and 2,300 Chinese chefs and waiters will offer an around-the-clock service in catering areas in the village, with 30 percent of the cuisine being Asian food.

"We have attached great importance to food safety and we will provide efficient catering services for all villagers," Deng said.

Source:China Daily

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