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Beijing Olympics: A hand-in-hand approach
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15:49, August 12, 2008

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The XXIX Olympiad – Beijing Olympics begins on 8th August 2008, inviting approximately 10,500 sportspersons to participate in 28 sports events from around the world. Such a big event and at this scale is not unprecedented in the world, but the astonishing fact is the overwhelming cooperation among countries at all levels to make it a big success. Olympics even after being a sports event remain a target of international politics and terrorist attacks. For say in 1972, Munich became of target of terror and now a series of anti-Beijing activities in various parts of the world. However, the bottom line remains that the majority in the world look games as a means to develop understanding and build relations.

Beijing Olympics is not just an upsurge of collective feelings among the local masses, but it is a concentrated effort of people around the world. As reported in state media more than 320,000 people volunteered to work at the 2008 Olympics along with 4,000 employees of foreign-run businesses, whereas there is a demand of only 70,000 for the summer games and 30,000 for Paralympics. In addition, Atos Origin, an international IT services company and Worldwide IT partner for the Olympic Games will provide IT support and services. It will help in designing, developing, testing and installing two systems: Games Management System (GMS) and Information Diffusion System (IDS), both providing management and organization of events. All these acquired technology and know-how will be beneficial for the smooth running of the games.

What is of greater interest to the world is the safety and security of Beijing Olympics. It is worth noting that the security focus laid on these games is hand-in-hand job of the countries across the continents. The over cautious and preemptive Beijing government started consultations and regular conferences with security organs and governments way back in 2006. The Olympics security command center has set up a coordinating committee focusing on security relationships with 73 countries having embassies in Beijing. The Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympics Games (BOCOG) has invited senior security officers from IOC countries as consultants, such as Mr. Peter Ryan from Sydney and Mr. Constantinides from Athens. Reports also point to the working relationship of Interpol with Chinese authorities with its Beijing branch known as National Central Bureau. It is understood that Interpol has agreed to deploy a "Major Event Support Team" for the opening ceremony.

Beijing has set up a network that is referred to as the "4+1 security force," comprising the Ministry of Public Security (MPS), People's Liberation Army (PLA), People's Armed Police, private security companies (Bao'an) and volunteers. It is all set to push in $300 million for the security, with 90,000 policemen and security workers, up to 150,000 other professional security personnel to maintain order in the city, and with over 290,000 volunteers patrolling the city limits. As early as December 2004, the Olympic Security Coordination Group (协调小组 xietiao xiaozu) was organized for all sorts of security organization, coordination, command and control responsibilities. It coordinates with domestic and foreign security entities as well as private organizations with twenty central government ministries and municipal government departments under its umbrella. To have mock training session to deal with terrorist attacks, on December 23, 2006, an anti-terror drill was staged in Qingdao. Later, in 2007, six member countries of SCO organized a joint anti-terror military exercise in Russia followed by exercises in Xinjiang Autonomous Region and Russia's Chelyabinsk.

A high degree of caution, a wide scale of mobilization, a broader range of cooperation is all that unveils Beijing Olympics. One wonders that if sports events with such huge investments can be brought under one umbrella to realize Beijing dream of people-centric Olympics, can not the countries work hand-in-hand to build the dream of one world existing in a harmonious manner. Even after being a spectator to the collaborative efforts of individuals and countries around the world to host a successful Olympics 2008, do we need to really worry about the safety of mankind if the will exists?

By Dr. Geeta Kochhar, Assistant Professor CC&SEAS, SLL&CS,JNU, E.mail: [email protected]

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