China all set to stage the greatest Olympics ever.

CHINA declared it was ready to stage one of the greatest Olympics ever, even as pollution concerns and human rights controversies hung over the final day of preparations for today’s opening ceremony.

As the world’s best athletes poured into Beijing and the Olympic ‟ ame passed over the Great Wall, Games organisers sought to shift global attention on to what they promise will be a spectacular celebration of sport.

“We have prepared for the Beijing Olympics for seven years and now we are ready… we are very con„ dent indeed that we will stage a successful Olympics,” organising committee spokesman Sun Weide said.

“Of course, we hope that these will be a great Games, even the greatest.” A mixture of pollution and fog again cut visibility across Beijing to a few hundred metres despite much publicised emergency measures to improve air quality.

The pollution issue has been particularly embarrassing for China because it has highlighted to the world one of the worst side-effects of its historic modernisation drive – massive environmental degradation.

More than 100 heads of state and other senior national leaders are expected to attend the Games, ensuring a current of political tensions will flow through the event despite China’s leaders repeated e! orts to dam the issue.

However, that is all expected to be at least briefly swept aside during the much anticipated opening ceremony that will kick off at 8pm today.

The date and time of the ceremony is no coincidence as, for many Chinese, number eight is a particularly auspicious number because it represents prosperity.

And sporting glory will undoubtedly be the main focus for the 10,000 athletes…




New Straits Times

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