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Sunday, December 30, 2007

PostHeaderIcon The mad dash to the Olympics


BEIJING EXPRESS: By CELESTE FONG

TODAY is the last day for those who want to get tickets for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. The Beijing Olympic Ticketing Centre constantly reminds the public here of the deadline!

The second phase for ticket sales began on Dec 10 and will end at midnight on Dec 30. Tickets are sold through a lottery system. Those who fail to get the tickets will be refunded.

People residing in China can still go to the 1,000 designated Bank of China branches to buy tickets, or they can do so through the official website of the Beijing Olympic Ticketing Centre at http://www.tickets.beijing 2008.cn

“I plan to watch beach volleyball and diving; I’d better hurry and submit my applications before the deadline,” said a friend who has yet to purchase tickets.

PostHeaderIcon Rights groups to protest Olympics float at parade

PASADENA – Controversy at this city's annual Rose Parade is about as rare as rain.

Nonetheless, hundreds of protesters are expected to be among the estimated 1 million people taking in the flower-covered floats and marching bands on Tuesday. The target of the ire is a float celebrating the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and what protesters say is China's worsening human rights record.

For months, a loose alliance of human rights, religious freedom, labor, Falun Gong, Burmese and Tibetan organizations have shadowed city and parade officials and unsuccessfully urged them to use their leverage to denounce human rights abuses in China.

PostHeaderIcon Beijing Olympic Venues Ready for Games

Olympic organizers say all the venues for next year's Games in Beijing have been finished except for the massive, 91-thousand seat National Stadium known as "the Bird's Nest."

Beijing Games executive vice president Jiang Xiaoyu said Friday that 36 of the 37 venues will be complete by December 31st. The National Stadium, nicknamed the Bird's Nest because of its exterior lattice work, should be finished by March.

Jiang said the aquatics venue is ready for a test event in January. Chinese Olympic organizers have had crews working 24 hours a day to complete the venues in time for the start of the Games on August 8th of next year. Beijing has spent an estimated $40 billion getting ready for the Games.
Friday, December 28, 2007

PostHeaderIcon Strike warning for 2012 Olympics

The construction of the 2012 Olympics could be hit by strikes and industrial disputes if the ODA does not implement a uniform pay structure, the UCATT has warned.

The construction union said the delivery of the Games’ venues would be vulnerable to wildcat strikes because disgruntled workers on low pay were likely to down tools or search for better pay with other contractors.

UCATT said that delays at Wembley and the Scottish Parliament were in part caused by differences in pay. It said that the single pay rate at Terminal 5 helped the smooth delivery of the scheme.

PostHeaderIcon All but 1 Beijing Olympics venues complete, 8 months before Games

Most venues for the Beijing Olympics have been completed according to plan with the only outstanding project - the 91,000-seat National Stadium - scheduled to be finished by March, an official said Friday.

Construction for the Games that begin Aug. 8 have hummed along, with workers labouring around the clock. Unlike Athens in 2004, there will be no last-minute scramble to finish venues.

"This year, venue construction was under way according to plan. All the new venues were finished as scheduled by the end of the year," said Jiang Xiaoyu, spokesman and executive vice-president for the Beijing Games.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007

PostHeaderIcon Looking for a room for the Beijing Olympics? Be patient

Patience will go a long way when trying to find a reasonably priced hotel for the Olympics.

Prices for rooms during the Aug. 8-24 games reportedly have skyrocketed, and it is unclear where the rates will eventually settle. Prices invariably rise for hotel space at all big sports events.

Penny Xiang, who works on accommodations for the Beijing organizing committee, said this is "like a game the hotels play with the market."

"On the one hand they want to sell the rooms at a very good price. On the other, they are not very certain about the market," Xiang said Tuesday. "As for Chinese, when we are not sure about something we just wait and see."

China newspapers have reported hotel rooms rates going for up to 10 times their normal price. However, she said most hotels had vacant rooms with most waiting to see where the prices would go.

"There are few hotels which have signed contracts," said Xiang, a deputy director of games services. "For those that have signed contracts, the price is not very high."

She said the supply of hotel rooms in Beijing was likely to be larger than demand, which should restrain price gouging. Xiang said Beijing had about 300,000 hotel rooms. Of those, 30,000 rooms at 120 topflight hotels have been reserved by the organizing committee and held under contract for Olympic officials, sponsors and dignitaries.

The average price for a standard room at a five-star hotel - under the organizers' contract - Xiang said was $380 a night. She said the remaining 270,000 rooms would slightly exceed the "daily flow of customers," expected to be about 250,000.

PostHeaderIcon IOC rebuffs Tibetan request for own team at Beijing Olympics

The International Olympic Committee has rejected an attempt by Tibet to field its own team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Delegates from the unofficial Tibetan National Olympic Committee met with Olympic officials today at the I-O-C headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Outside, more than 100 supporters, including some Buddhist monks, waved banners and Tibetan flags.

However, a spokesman for the Tibetan group, Wangpo Tethong, said later that the I-O-C was not in a position to accept its application.

Michel Filliau, a senior I-O-C official who took part in the meeting, said a rule change in 1996 means only national committees from countries recognized by the international community can take part in the Olympics.

A special exemption is granted only to those territories whose national committees were recognized before 1996, such as those for the Palestinian territories, Hong Kong and Taiwan. which competes as Chinese Taipei.

PostHeaderIcon Foreign clergy not invited to Beijing Olympics

"China is a country with religious freedom and respects every religion," boasts the Web site of Beijing's Olympic games organizers. Expecting an influx of God-fearing athletes at next year's event, they will even cater to their spiritual needs. But China's wariness of foreign clergy is hard to overcome.

In line with the International Olympic Committee's requirements, officials are setting up a religious center in the Olympic village. Athletes will be able to attend services of their own faiths and seek counseling from chaplains. But, breaking with usual practice, China has not invited foreigners to serve as chaplains. The staff at the center will belong to China's state- approved churches.

Catholic priests from overseas were bound to be a problem. There have been some signs of a thaw in relations with the Vatican. Last week Chinese clergy in the southern city of Guangzhou ordained the fourth bishop loyal to the Vatican to be appointed in China since September. But China has no diplomatic ties with the Vatican and several Catholic priests are in prison for refusing to cooperate with the state-controlled church.

PostHeaderIcon China set to dominate table tennis at Olympics

China's domination of world table tennis looks set to continue on home soil at next year's Beijing Olympics, an International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) official has said.

The Beijing University gymnasium, only recently inaugurated, will host the table tennis events where four Olympic golds will be up for grabs during next year's games from August 8 to 24.

China has dominated the world of table tennis for decades but at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, South Korean Ryu Seung Min upstaged the Chinese to take the men's singles title.

China won all five titles at the individual world championships at Zagreb, Croatia, in May this year, and, according to the ITTF publications editor Ian Marshall, the trend will probably continue at next year's Olympics.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

PostHeaderIcon London Olympics budget ‘out of control’

The 2012 London Olympic Games could go over its £9.3B ($19.1B; €12.9B ) budget, a top official admitted Tuesday.

The London Olympics budget is “slightly out of control” and is sapping resources from other social and cultural activity such as the arts, according to Paul Myners, chairman of the Tate.

John Armitt, the chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority, told a British parliamentary committee that the £2.7B ($5.5B; €3.7B) fund set aside for budget overspend may not be enough.

Armitt said the ODA, which is responsible for building the venues and infrastructure for the Games, was sticking to tight budgets, but was unable to promise that there would not be overruns.

PostHeaderIcon China to Evict 1.5M for Olympics

China continues to evict 13,000 people each month in preparation for the Beijing Olympics, despite worldwide attention and increased scrutiny, a housing rights group said Wednesday.

The Center on Housing Rights and Evictions said a recent trip to the Chinese capital confirmed an estimate it made earlier this year that 1.5 million people would be displaced by the time the 2008 Games are held.

Beijing says the group is grossly inflating the number of people being relocated as a result of the Olympic preparations, and that residents are content with the compensation they have received.

PostHeaderIcon Will the 2008 Olympics bring attention China doesn't need?

When the International Olympic Committee awarded Beijing the 2008 Summer Games in July 2001, the announcement ignited wild celebrations across the country. The Chinese Communist Party hoped to use the Games to showcase the country's emergence as a dynamic, modern nation. But as China's leaders begin final preparations for the Games next August, they may be wondering if hosting the event was such a good idea after all. They have significant reasons for doubt.

China's senior leaders always closely monitor spontaneous public expressions of nationalist fervor, fearful that shifting winds might blow an unwelcome storm in their direction. Of course what they hope is that the Games will channel these energies toward national solidarity, which will allow the leadership to deliver its people a moment of achievement and patriotic glory.

But the Olympics will also bring intense international scrutiny of China's weaknesses at a delicate moment in the country's development. The world already knows of China's success and its attractiveness as a destination for foreign investment, but few outsiders have seen firsthand the steep price the country is paying for its new prosperity.

PostHeaderIcon Rise of LCD-TV brings seasonality to large-sized LCD panel market

Demand for large-sized LCDs, i.e. panels 10-inches or bigger in the diagonal dimension, was strong in the third quarter, with indications that sales remained healthy through November. Television manufacturers have been snapping up panels, despite increasingly tight supplies.

However, iSuppli predicts the LCD market will enter a state of oversupply in December as demand cools—a situation that will continue into the first quarter of 2008. From there, demand for large-sized LCD panels will begin to ramp up in the second quarter of 2008, with brisk sales continuing up to the fourth quarter.

This follows the seasonal pattern of the television business, with manufacturing rising in the pre-holiday season and peaking in November, then undergoing a slowdown until the second half of the year, when activity starts picking up again. The major factor driving this seasonal pattern is the television manufacturers’ Christmas build period at the end of each year. In the second quarter of 2008, LCD-TV panel demand is expected to be strong due to the Olympics.
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Welcome to Olympic Updates, my continuing blog to following the Olympic Games. Founded in 2007, I have enjoyed providing news and information on the 2008 Beijing Summer Games and I look forward to keeping you up to date on the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games.

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