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  • On the Scene in Beijing - Devilish Details Ahead for 2008 Olympics


    IOC Olympic Games Director Gilbert Felli, Hein Verbuggen and BOCOG VP Jiang Xiaoyu. (ATR)  
    (ATR) While he said there are no problems for the Beijing Olympics, the chair of the IOC commission overseeing the Games says “the devil is in the details” for organizers in these final months of preparation.

    “We certainly have a number of points that we are in contact with BOCOG on a day-to-day basis that have to be looked after,” said Hein Verbruggen Thursday in Beijing at the end of the latest visit of the commission, it’s ninth since 2002.

    “But there is nothing,” he said, adding for emphasis, “nothing that is of any, any, risk or danger for the organization of next year’s Games,” he said at a press conference attended by about 100 members of the press.

    The most crucial unresolved issue appears to be completion of the mammoth International Broadcast Center next to the Olympic Green. Work has been delayed due to the failure of one supplier; the contractor is now under pressure to complete the project by its end of the
    The IBC, as it is supposed to look, when completed. (BOCOG)  
    year deadline.

    “Air quality remains a concern,” said Verbruggen at the top of his remarks, taking three minutes to elaborate on what’s being done to alleviate pollution for the Games. With the government leading the way to clear the air, spending more than $12 billion on pollution abatement, Verbruggen said there is “no blame to be addressed by BOCOG”.

    Verbruggen's comments came the same day a U.N. report said that air quality issues were likely to remain unresolved by the time of the Games. But the report also lauded the efforts underway to cut the haze.

    One insider familiar with the work going on between BOCOG and the IOC and sports federations uses the word “tension” to describe the increased need for organizers to make hundreds of decisions. Verbruggen estimated that 90 percent of the decisions made in the history of an organizing committee will come in these final months to the Games.

    In other notes from the press conference:

    Demand for tickets from national Olympic committees is higher than normal, indicating the high interest of the world in the Beijing Olympics, said Verbruggen.

    BOCOG vice president Jiang Xiaoyu says the second round of ticket sales will begin later this month.

    There are no discussions to bring back a torch relay stop to Taipei after the city was dropped last month over unresolved issues.

    The next meeting of the coordination commission, the final one prior to the Games, will be moved from January to the second week of April, dates still to be decided.

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