Author Topic: Beijing: We'll avoid white elephants  (Read 984 times)

Offline David

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Beijing: We'll avoid white elephants
« on: April 06, 2007, 04:14:52 PM »
Beijing will do everything it can to avoid the "white elephant" problem that has damaged the Olympic legacy in Athens, a leading sports official said.

The capital city has announced a three-year 500 million yuan ($62.7 million) budget to ensure the 12 new and 11 refurbished sporting venues will not lie empty after the Games.

"We will do our best to capitalize on hosting the 2008 Games and not repeat the waste of Olympic legacy in Athens," Li Jinkang, vice-director of Beijing Sports Bureau, told China Daily. "The government has invested so much money in the Games so we cannot let the stadiums become debts. We want to deliver a lasting legacy to the city.

"The use of stadiums in the post-Olympic period is already at the top of our agenda."

Before the 2004 Summer Games Athens spent more that 3.5 billion euros ($4.68 billion) building state-of-the-art venues, but two years later many lie empty and unused.

The post-Games event budget, which will start in 2008, is the biggest ever in Beijing sports history, but officials said discussions about how exactly it would be spent are ongoing.

"We have yet to reach an agreement how to spend it, but the goal is clear we want to build Beijing into China's sporting center," Li said. "I think one important part is to host top international events as this is the best way to make good use of the Olympic venues. Also, we will focus on developing grassroots sports in rural areas of the municipality to promote sports development as a whole."

The effort will not be easy, however, as financial hub Shanghai is already a step ahead.

This year Shanghai will host Formula One, Motorbike World Championships and A1 grand prix, three of the four European Tour co-sanctioned golf events, the tennis Masters Cup and the final of the women's soccer World Cup.

Olympic test events aside, Beijing will host just the China Open WTA and ATP tennis tournaments, and the snooker China Open.

But there is good news for Beijing as it secured one of the "crown jewel" events in women's tennis from 2009, a nine-day tournament for the world's top players with a $4 million prize pot.

"In addition to the China Open tennis we will bring more events with a similar level. The government is ready to support the plans with policy and money," said Li.

Source: China Daily