Tuesday, January 29, 2008

PostHeaderIcon Vancouver set for two-year countdown to 2010 Winter Olympics

Vancouver's Olympic organizers will mark the two-year countdown to the 2010 Games next month buoyed by having come a long way from the ridicule they endured at the Turin closing ceremony in 2006.

Back then, organizing committee VANOC came under fire for its handling of the eight-minute promotional show which left British Columbia premier Gordon Campbell angry that the ice-fishing spectacle had too many banal stereotypes of Canada.

"I've heard a lot of people who don't think it was an OK start," Campbell told the Vancouver Sun newspaper.

"I thought there were lots of stereotypes that are not what the new Canada is. There's lots we can do and we'll improve."

Organizers say things are different now and point to the fact that three of the nine venues for the 2010 Games have already been completed. (...more)

PostHeaderIcon Beijing's 'Water Cube' unveiled

China officially unveiled its bubble-wrapped National Aquatics Centre, nicknamed the "Water Cube", on Tuesday, one of the two iconic venues for this year's Beijing Olympics.

The imposing rectangular box, clad in a honeycomb of transparent cushions, will host the swimming, diving and synchronised swimming during the August 8-24 sporting spectacular.

The US$143.2 million complex does not yet match the "dreamlike and water-blue building" of the official description and the ETFE pneumatic cushions clearly need a clean to get rid of the grime of construction.

There was no disguising, however, the delight of the officials in the completion of the complicated structure, which was designed by an Australian consortium and on which work started in 2003.

"I feel very excited and proud of this venue," Li Aiqing, president of the Beijing State-Owned Assets Management Company, told reporters.

"It is one of the biggest swimming centres in the world. The whole project is complex and unique. After five years of effort, we are very, very happy." (...more)

PostHeaderIcon Olympics-China says will not submit to political pressure

China will never submit to taunting or political pressure from groups or governments wishing to use the Beijing Olympics to change Chinese policy, a leading state-run newspaper said on Tuesday.

Activists around the globe are seizing on this year's Olympics to pressure Beijing on a range of issues, from freedom of religion to Taiwan and Tibet.

Actress Mia Farrow has been leading a global campaign for China to change its policies in Sudan, whose government Beijing sells weapons to and buys oil from.

"As the Beijing Olympics have become a popular talking point around the world, some who look at the Chinese people with tinted spectacles have created a sort of baffling 'excitement'," Communist Party mouthpiece the People's Daily said in a strongly worded opinion piece.

"They believe they can exert enough pressure on the Chinese government to force China into a situation where it cannot but do their bidding," it said. "These people have made the wrong calculation."

They would be especially mistaken to think that Beijing would give ground on Taiwan, the self-ruled island China claims as its own, the piece added. (...more)

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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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