Furlong cast a global eye, one that could be regarded as historical, cultural and sporting, when he observed “The world is about to find out how capable China is, and how tenacious and talented its people are.”
While the Beijing Games
will be the third to be staged in Asia, the next gathering of the world’s best athletes in August and September 2008 will surely prove ground-breaking.
“If any of us sat down to write what we know about China, we would go back to their 5,000 years of history and culture,” said Furlong. “But I think the story that China would want to project to the world is the emerging China, the new China, the modern China.
Sun Weide, deputy director of communications for BOCOG, the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, agreed. “We describe hosting the Beijing Games as a 100-year-old dream come true,” he said. “The Beijing Games will be a window into Beijing and China. For a country whose history spans 5,000 years – Beijing itself has more than 3,000 years of history and has been the Chinese capital for more than 850 years – China will not only promote Olympism throughout its vast territory, but also make a significant contribution to cultural exchanges and better understanding between China and the rest of the world.”
Attracting global attention
Construction crews work on the site of the National Stadium, dubbed the ‘bird’s nest’, home to athletics and football. (Photo courtesy Getty Images)
A quick review of the news reveals the tremendous team effort that’s under way to stage the 2008 Summer Games, and the results achieved as Beijing readies itself to welcome the world. As Sun explained, “At present, preparations for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games are going smoothly. Magnificent stadiums, masterpieces of modern design and construction, are taking shape; massive expansion and improvement to the public transportation system, with new roads, subways and an air terminal, are well under way; and substantial afforestation endeavours (converting of non-forested areas to forests through tree planting and seeding) by the municipal government and local Beijingers have been adding more green and beauty to the city. In a word, Beijing is getting ready to be a great host city. We’re confident of hosting high-level Games, with distinctive Chinese features.”
On this side of the Pacific Ocean, Furlong noted, “I think the world has framed up a kind of vision of what those Games are going to do, globally and in China, and everyone will be there with eyes wide open wondering just exactly what that will look like.”