Official Announces 'Beijing Is Ready' in Hours Countdown to Olympics

With less than 10 hours to the long-expected Beijing Olympic Games, an organizing official announced in Beijing that "Beijing is ready."

With fluent English, Wang Wei, executive vice president and secretary-general of the Beijing Organizing Committee of the 29th Olympic Games (BOCOG), said at a press conference: "Today is a big day for Beijing and China. The Beijing Olympic Games starts from today. I will say that we are ready and Beijing is ready."

Firstly, the infrastructure including sports venues and media venues are ready. Second, people in the city are ready. The large number of volunteers for the Games and people in the whole city are ready to host the friends from all over the world, Wang said.

Altogether 37 competition venues, 87 training venues and six related facilities have all been put into operation.

Athletes' enrollment and qualification examination have been completed. A total of 11,438 athletes on behalf of 205 national and regional Olympic committees will participate in the Beijing Games. All arrangements for the reception of members of the Olympic Family and International VIPs are underway.

"The preliminary football games have started and they have gone well so far. People are excited about the Games and the opening ceremony tonight. I would not disclose much of the secret, but we did have three rehearsals to let people have glimpse of what it is going to be except for the most top secret one," he said.

In responding to who will be the last torch bearer tonight, Wang claimed "it will be a big surprise."

On the concerns about Beijing's air quality, Wang said, "Outside the air quality is good, though it looks a bit misty. We cannot judge the air quality by its appearance but should trust the finding. I think tonight we will be lucky. Usually, if morning is misty, the night will be much better."

Wang also disclosed that there is indeed an emergency plan for adverse weather. "For drizzle, everything will just continue. For shower, I think during our second rehearsal, we have some kind of rain, but the performance was continuing. If the rain gets heavier, something will be modified. We have contingency plans for three kinds of scenarios."

Responding to the question about why Liu Huan is selected to sing the theme song, Wang said it is a good choice, as Liu is very international. "The Games is international, so we not only want to showcase the culture and history of China, but also try to be international and understandable to our friends of the world."

As security is always the top job for the Olympic organizers, Wang reiterated that "We spare no efforts in terms of making the Games safe. The security forces have been reinforced and we share intelligence with the world's intelligent agencies."

As the Chinese people take "8" as a lucky number, there are a large number of Chinese people getting married on Friday. "Hopefully, the good luck will be brought to the opening ceremony. Let's have our fingers crossed and have a good time tonight." said Wang in confidence.

(Xinhua News Agency August 8, 2008)

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