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Feature: Six big mysteries surround Beijing Olympics
21:56, August 06, 2008

With less than two days before the big day of the Beijing Olympics, some mysteries remain in the air concerning the opening ceremony and the Games at large.

The 29th summer Olympic Games, called a "landmark event for the Olympic Movement" by IOC President Jacques Rogge, not only witness the biggest gathering of more than 16,000 athletes and coaches from 205 countries and regions, but also serve as the best opportunity for China to impress the world.


SPECTACULAR START

What general director Zhang Yimou cooks up for the opening ceremony remains a focus deserving world attention.

The opening, which is expected to attract the highest audience rating and vastest spectators, is far more than an art performance, but also a golden chance for China to impress the world with its brilliant history, civilization and modernization.

The main challenge for leading "chef" Zhang lies in his surmounting the cultural difference between the East and West, while break through the talented originalities in previous Olympics, such as the spectacular display of water and fire in Sydney and a dreamlike Aegean sea in Athens.

Zhang, one of China's most pronounced directors, is going all out to bear cultural elements and encapsulate China's 5,000 years of history in the one-hour opening ceremony.

Blending Tibetan dances, Anhui drum dances, Yunnan flower dances and Shandong yangko opera, the 57-year-old director prepares to celebrate the world festival with China's 56 ethnic groups.

As one of the highlights of the opening ceremony, fireworks show will be staged along the opening ceremony, reminding the world one of China's ancient achievements, the invention of gunpowder.

However, the last torch bearer, the theme song and the way of cauldron lighting, were sealed off as "state secrets".

Zhang would keep the suspense going about his main recipes for the "big meal" until the last minute.

CLEAN OLYMPICS

Doping remains a permanent topic and suspense along the evolution of Olympics.

To secure clean Games in Beijing, the IOC plans to carry out 4,500 random checks for doping control through the Olympics, including more than 700 blood tests and 400 for HGH.

The perennial battle between doping cheats and drug-testers will be more intense than ever, as Olympic officials strive to protect the integrity of the Olympics following a couple of scandals that tarnished the sports world in recent weeks and months.

China has fought a tough battle against drug cheats with several life-time bans on well-known athletes ahead of Olympics, including China's top backstroker Ouyang Kunpeng.

Answering Rogge's appeal for "cleanest" Olympics in history, Chinese Deputy Sports Minister Duan Shijie said the country is determined to fully cooperate with the IOC ensuring toughest ever doping control in the Games.

"Even if China's Olympic hurdling champion Liu Xiang committed drug cheats, we will not and cannot cover up," Duan said.

GOLD RUSH

With the Beijing Olympics around the corner, eager Chinese are crossing fingers for a gold spree on home soil.

China took home 32 gold medals in Athens, finishing second on the medals table after the United States.

Four years later, the expectations of ordinary Chinese are even higher as the Olympics for the first time comes to their homeland.

Some foreign media expected Beijing possibly to overhaul the United States for the first place in the medals count this time.

However, most of Chinese will not consider "top placing" as a necessity for the players' success. Competing morale and self-improvement in the Olympics are among their major expectations from native athletes.

SECURE OLYMPICS

To host safe Olympics, Beijing has launched a whole-nation prevention and response system to guard all kinds of security threats.

During the Games, the PLA army, navy and air force would be coordinated and deployed. Land forces based in Beijing and three neighboring military commanding zones, including Shenyang, Jinan and Nanjing, would help safeguard the Games.

Special forces such as an air force unit, an engineering force and a chemical defense force would join the mission. Furthermore, fighters, helicopters, warships, missiles, chemical defense devices and radars would be used in case of necessity.

The air force would prevent and tackle emergencies, especially terrorist attacks, based on information sent by its defense system.

A four-level countermeasure, including warning, interception, forced landing and attack, would be adapted for any invading object.

INFORMATION OPENNESS

Air quality, Internet access, weather...all have been put under a magnifier of the global media with the Olympics coming closer.

Due to the great divergence in cultures, traditions and concepts between the East and West, Beijing might face even tougher scrutiny from foreigners during Olympics.

However, after seven years of preparations, the Chinese public have become more accustomed to criticism from outside, and more tolerant to different opinions.

"It's quite natural for the international media to find problems with the Games' preparations and with our country," said Xu Jicheng, deputy chief of the Olympic Main Press Center. "If the problems are real, we shall make efforts to improve; if the report is biased or even distorted, we shall allow the audience to make judgment by themselves."

Two months ago, the Chinese government had won appreciation from the international community for transparency of information and administration during handling the devastating earthquake.

Currently China is again welcoming the whole world with a practical and realistic manner.

"China's door to the outside world is always wide open," said Chinese President Hu Jintao. "Whether during or after the Olympic Games, we will always welcome foreign reporters to this country to cover what is happening."

China has never stopped its reform and opening up since 1978. The Beijing Olympics are going to accelerate the country's steps in opening up to the global media and the whole world.

IOC JUDGEMENT

The world is guessing what Rogge would evaluate Beijing on Aug. 24 as he always did for previous Olympic host cities.

Just on Monday, Rogge told global media the Beijing Games would be a "historic" one and would significantly advance the Olympic goals of universality and fair play, with a record number of participating delegations, with women making up 45 percent of all, more stringent doping test and new steps to combat irregular betting.

"I believe history will view the 2008 Olympics as a significant milestone in China's remarkable transformation," he added.

Moreover, Olympic committees of various countries and regions have appreciated Beijing's organization in their reports to the IOC.

Most of the athletes called the Olympic Village the best-ever in the Olympic history.

"The Chinese government and people will honor their commitment, and do their utmost to host a high-level Olympic Games with distinguishing features," said President Hu.

Beijing, with confidence and sincerity, is ready for world appraisal. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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