Beijing, China, July 1, 2007 - The first batch of sand for the 2008 Olympic Games Beach Volleyball competition has arrived and offloaded at the under-construction Olympic Beach Volleyball site in Beijing’s Chaoyang Park. When offloading at the site, curious locals are intrigued by the sand – the first batch of 1,400 tons carried in 59 trucks. It appears white from a distance, but a closer look shows yellow granules too. "It feels good, very thin and clean - not sticky - and it runs quickly through your fingers," a passer-by said after feeling the sand.
It is the first batch of 17,000 tons - especially approved by the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) - to arrive at the park where the venue for the 2008 Olympics Beach Volleyball competition is under construction. At a total cost of 10 million yuan (1.28 million U.S.D.), each shipment will spend 12 days aboard a freight from the south China island of Hainan to the Port of Tianjin and then a further two hours at least being trucked to Beijing. The shipments are expected to be completed by mid-July, according to the Beijing Chaoyang Park Development Company, which is building the venue.
The sand from Dongfang City, Hainan, was carefully selected by the organizing committee of the Games after considering several options. China has collected samples of sand from three cities – Yangjiang of the Guangdong Province, and Danzhou city and Dongfang city of the Hainan Province and sent them to the official FIVB Examination Laboratory Center in Canada for testing and examination. After a strict examination, the sand sample from Dongfang city beat the others thanks to its "high-quality", and approved as “the Olympic sand”. "Olympic sand", which must conform to a set shape, size and color, usually comes from Finland, Sweden and Denmark, but the price would be three times that of domestic sand. "Collected from local mines, the sand must undergo processing, including selection, washing and polishing," said Guo Shaoxian, an engineer within the development company.
An important women’s event, an FIVB Challenger, will be played in the competition site of Chaoyang Park from 13rd August to 19th to sollicit athletes' opinions about the sand, according to the company. The Chaoyang Park Beach Volleyball venue includes one major competition court, two warm-up courts and six training courts. The venue will be able to hold 12,000 spectators and will feature a picturesque man-made beach, offering local people a taste of the seaside after the Games.
photos Janos Schmidt