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  • Countdown Beijing: Bubbles and Pups


    The bubble covering for the aquatics center (ATR) 
    (ATR) The aquatics center for the Beijing Olympics is covered in bubbles, Chinese athletes are told to curb promotions while Beijingers are told to curb their dogs. More on the scene coverage from the Olympic City, in Countdown Beijing.

    Bubble Wrap Covers Aquatics Center

    Workers have completed installation of 634 blue membranes onto the distinctive "double bubble" steel framework of the aquatics center for the 2008 Olympics.

    The installation was completed on November 4, 11 days ahead of schedule, BOCOG said.

    The cushion-like membranes on the aquatics center, nicknamed the "water cube", are made from modified ethylene-tetra-fluoro-ethylene, or E

    The venue will be used for swimming, diving, water polo and synchronized swimming.

    Producers of the ETFE membranes say the bubbles have a self-cleaning function.

    Olympics Sponsors Workshop

    BOCOG Secretary General Wang Wei said Beijing's marketing program has "shifted from the solicitation of sponsors to service for sponsors."

    He spoke at BOCOG's first Sponsor Hospitality Workshop this week, attended by representatives of national and worldwide Games sponsors.

    "The participation and support of sponsors constitute a crucial force to drive forward the Olympic Movement," Wang said.

    The major news coming out of the workshop: location of the Sponsor village. To no surprise, the village -- a combination of public exhibition of sponsor wares and hospitality center--will be built in a portion of the Olympic Green, the largest venue cluster for the Games. The site will include parking.

    Chinese Athletes Told to Curb Promotional Events

    Gold medalist Liu Xiang is a success on the track and commercially. Sports officials have ordered Chinese athletes to curb promotional activities and focus on full-time training for the 2008 Games, as China aims for a record medal haul.

    The athletes are forbidden to take part in social and commercial activities without permission from their sports associations, "in order to ensure the training quality of the athletes for the 2008 Games," state media quoted Sports Minister and Chinese Olympic Committee head Liu Peng as saying.

    The Beijing News quoted BOCOG consultant Wei Jizhong as criticizing the "negative effect" of the huge publicity surrounding 110-metres hurdles gold-medallist Liu Xiang, whose image is now seen on advertisements across China.

    Wei said Chinese athletes' commercial activities were "over-abundant" at the Athens Games.

    Asia-Pacific Broadcasters Make Schedule Plea

    In a move that is likely to be of no avail, the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union is urging the IOC to reconsider changes in the times for swimming and gymnastics finals in 2008.

    "We are very disappointed and strongly regret the changes that have been made to the time schedule for swimming and gymnastics,"
    Gold medalist Liu Xiang is sought after in China for commercial endorsements. (ATR) 
    ABU president Genichi Hashimoto said in Beijing during a meeting of the ABU.

    "The Olympic Games is a highly-anticipated event which everyone all over the world is looking forward to watching," the China Daily newspaper quoted Hashimoto as saying.

    "We have to give serious consideration to this matter so that such a regrettable incident will never happen again in the future," said Hashimoto, who also heads Japan's public broadcaster, NHK.

    John Barton, the ABU's Head of Sports, said the changes could cost Asian broadcasters "millions of dollars" in lost advertising revenue.

    Canine-Free Games

    Following its long-term "one child" family planning policy, Beijing now plans to enforce its policy of "one dog" per family to reduce the risk of rabies and to clean up city streets.

    The new policy means that guide-dogs and police sniffer dogs could be the only canines seen in Beijing during the Games.

    The Beijing government will enforce a 2003 regulation that bans dogs from markets, stores, commercial areas, hotels, parks, schools, hospitals and most other public places.

    Dog owners in the nine downtown districts of Beijing face fines if they are caught with more than one pet pooch, fail to buy a license, or let their animals off the leash in public.

    Reported from Beijing by Bill Smith

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