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Dutch Olympic Committee chief wishes Beijing Olympics success
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14:06, April 03, 2008

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China has made tremendous efforts to ensure the upcoming summer Olympic Games in Beijing a success, Dutch Olympic Committee President Erica Terpstra said in a recent interview with Xinhua in The Hague.

"I really hope there will be a big success (in Beijing)," she said.


As the president of both the Dutch Olympic Committee and the Dutch Sports Confederation, Terpstra visited Beijing Olympics construction sites many times and she is quite satisfied with the venues. "The buildings are absolutely beautiful," she said.

Terpstra, herself a former Olympic swimmer, is especially fond of the swimming pool. "The Olympic swimming pool is so-o-o beautiful," she marveled.

As for the challenges for Beijing to control air pollution and traffic jams, Terpstra said these are common challenges for the world's big cities and she believed the Chinese government has made an earnest effort to improve the situation.

"China plans to restrict the number of cars that could hit the road during the Games. Maybe that can help," she said.

She is also full of compliments for Chinese volunteers. Having seen Chinese volunteers doing their job during the Beijing marathon in October, she concluded that they will put on an equally fantastic if not better performance during the Olympic Games.

"I respect and salute all the volunteers for the Olympics. They are doing a marvelous job," she said.

Terpstra is also pleased at the Chinese organizers' initiative to ask middle schools in Beijing to "adopt" countries that participate in the Games.

Each participating country is adopted by a school whose students will then learn the history and culture of the country and to cheer for the country's athletes during the Olympics.

"It's such a great idea! I will soon visit the school in Beijing which adopted the Netherlands," she said.


Terpstra said that her country will dispatch the biggest Dutch Olympics delegation ever to Beijing, with 240 to 260 members. The Dutch athletes will compete in more sports events than at any previous Olympics.

"Our ambitions are high," she said, noting that the Dutch are strong at swimming, cycling, horse dressage, rowing, hockey and judo.

"We'd like to finish at the top ten of the world (medal rankings) ," she said, refraining from making medal predictions.

The Dutch top athletes have been training for 10 to 12 years to get an entrance ticket to the Olympics, she said.

"All they want now is to realize their dreams -- being the best at the Games," said Terpstra, who won a silver and a bronze at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964.

During the Games, the whole Dutch nation will cheer for the Dutch athletes, she said. Many people will be dressed in orange, the color of the Dutch royal house, and those who can not travel to Beijing will be glued to television to watch the events.

The Olympics are a unique occasion where people from different backgrounds are brought together and practise sport in a spirit of friendship, free from discrimination, Terpstra said.

"It's so marvelous to be an athlete in the Olympic village, seeing people of all colors of the rainbow, of all cultures, religions and beliefs, who have one thing in common: the Olympic dreams," she said. "You really feel you are a global citizen."

"It's the power of sports," she concluded.


Terpstra studied the Chinese language and culture at university. Her dream then was to be a diplomat in the Far East.

"I have always been fascinated by the Chinese culture, especially the ancient Chinese arts. I am also attached to Buddhism," she said.

Terpstra didn't become an ambassador to China, but her Chinese knowledge comes in handy when the Olympics go to China. "Wo shi nimen de peng you (I am your friend)," Terpstra said in Chinese.

When she studied sinology at the Leiden University in 1962, there were only three students in her class, but now there are hundreds of students each year.

Terpstra visited China many times, and what struck her most were the dramatic changes in the country in the past decades.

"When I first went to Beijing in 1978, there were no cars, no highways, and bicycles were everywhere. Chinese people were dressed in the Mao Zedong suits," she recalled.

Then she witnessed amazing changes in the past couple of years. "It was a miracle what's going on in China. It's absolutely great," she said.


Terpstra said it's a pity that there have been so much discussions in the West about human rights issues in China that the brilliance of the Games has been somewhat overshadowed.

"The Chinese government has made so much an effort to make the Olympics a success," She said. "I really hope there will be a big success."

Terpstra said that during the Olympic Games Dutch athletes are not allowed to make political statements, take part in political demonstrations or wear T shirts with political slogans.

"These rules are written in the Olympic Charter and have been implemented for many years. This has nothing to do with China," she said.

"We expect our athletes to stick to the rules: There should be no political actions whatsoever in the Olympic village or other venues," she said.

If any athlete is found breaching the rules, he or she will be immediately suspended for the remainder of the Games, she said.

Source: Xinhua

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