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Beijing offers Olympic Volunteers Free Eye Surgery

People who volunteer to help during the Beijing Olympics will have a better chance to see the Games -- literally.

A Beijing-based military hospital announced on Monday an offer of free laser eye surgery for 100 near-sighted volunteers to "better serve the Games".

Games organizers said early this month that more than 800,000 people had applied as volunteers for the Olympics in August and Paralympics in September this year.

"As we know, most of the volunteers are university students and generally have a bad eyesight," said Liang Ge, director of the eye clinic of the General Hospital of Second Artillery Force of People's Liberation Army, adding that most could not afford the high cost -- normally about 10,000 yuan (about US$1,370)-- for corrective surgery.

"Our purpose is to offer Olympic volunteers a good image to better serve the games," said Li Zhiren, vice president of the hospital.

Li said the hospital had bought a new laser device to offer "the most advanced technology for the volunteers".

All Olympics volunteers were allowed to apply for the treatment before Feb. 20 and 90 applicants would be chosen by lottery, Li said.

The other ten would be granted to winners of an Olympic writing contest.

(Xinhua News Agency January 22, 2008)

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