Or­ga­niz­ers prom­ise eco­nom­i­cal, ef­fi­cient 12th National Games

Or­ga­niz­ers aim for thrifti­ness, not ex­trav­a­gance

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By LIU CE ZHU CHENGPEI in Shenyang

Fang Qi, 21, has been prac­tic­ing for six hours al­ready in the saunalike re­hearsal hall at Shenyang Nor­mal Univer­sity, in Liaon­ing prov­ince, where tem­per­a­tures have con­sis­tently reached 33 C as of mid-Au­gust.

How­ever, the univer­sity stu­dent is not com­plain­ing, be­cause she knows that she will be rewarded with a role in the open­ing cer­e­mony of the 12th National Games — as will her 600-plus team­mates.

The games, which are held in Liaon­ing prov­ince, will start on Aug 31 and run for 13 days. While some of the sport­ing com­pe­ti­tions have al­ready taken place, the open­ing cer­e­mony will mark the of­fi­cial start of the national event, which draws ath­letes from across the coun­try.

In con­trast with the mag­nif­i­cent scenes on dis­play at pre­vi­ous big events in China, the open­ing cer­e­mony in Shenyang on Aug 31 will be a rel­a­tively low-key, day­time af­fair. The per­for­mance will only last 23 min­utes, and there will be no highly paid su­per­stars or eye­catch­ing fire­works.

“It re­flects our core con­cept for the games — fru­gal­ity,” said He Min, vice-gover­nor of Liaon­ing prov­ince, who is also vice- chair­woman and sec­re­tary gen­eral of the 12th National Games Or­ga­niz­ing Com­mit­tee.

It’s the first time since the 6th National Games in 1987 that the open­ing cer­e­mony will be held dur­ing the day­time. The gen­eral bud­get of the cer­e­mony is 9 mil­lion yuan ($1.47 mil­lion), roughly 10 per­cent of the bud­get for the last games four years ago, ac­cord­ing to the or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee.

“We have can­celed largescale the­atri­cal per­for­mances to al­low more cit­i­zens to get in­volved in the games. All the per­form­ers are lo­cal sports fans and am­a­teur ac­tors from all walks of life,” said Zhu Wen­biao, an of­fi­cer from the com­mit­tee who is in charge of the open­ing and clos­ing cer­e­monies.

The cer­e­mony will in­volve min­i­mal spend­ing on light­ing and fire­works, which are usu­ally big costs at such events, he added.

The prin­ci­ple of fru­gal­ity has been ap­plied to ev­ery de­tail of the games and its or­ga­niz­ing process. Or­ga­niz­ers aim to keep the to­tal op­er­at­ing cost within 800 mil­lion yuan, 78 per­cent less than the bud­get.

Ac­cord­ing to He, the com­mit­tee has ar­ranged for buffet din­ners in­stead of ban­quets, and the torch re­lay was limited to 14 cities around Liaon­ing, rather than ex­tend­ing across the whole coun­try.

The over­all scale of the games has also been nar­rowed. The to­tal num­ber of ath­letes has been re­duced from 11,000 in 2009 to 9,500 this year.

Fo­cus on sports

How­ever, the mood of thrifti­ness has not neg­a­tively af­fected the ath­letes or their ex­pected per­for­mance lev­els.

“We want to let the games fo­cus again on the sports,” He said.

This view was shared by 56- year- old Dong Chun­lin, who has par­tic­i­pated in 10 con­sec­u­tive National Games, both as a mod­ern pen­tath­lete and now as cap­tain of the Hubei team.

“It’s a good trend that the National Games are fo­cus­ing again on the sports them­selves. We came to com­pete with top- level ath­letes, not for the jun­ket. We don’t need any kind of pomp. A wellor­ga­nized and warm ser­vice is more im­por­tant for us. We like the buffet meals, which cut down on waste,” he said.

Dong’s team won the sil­ver medal for the mixed group mod­ern pen­tathlon, which was among the events held early, tak­ing place in Dalian from July 25 to July 28.

Li Xin, a 21- year- old vol­un­teer at the games, has also taken the mes­sage of fru­gal­ity to heart.

“We never print some­thing if the in­for­ma­tion can be e-mailed or trans­mit­ted ver­bally. Even the signs for our of­fices are made from board com­posed of re­cy­cled straw, which is con­ve­nient and cheap,” Li said. “We have made more than 30 signs now. Th­ese ex­pe­ri­ences make me un­der­stand that thrift re­ally is a virtue.”

He Min said that the mes­sage of fru­gal­ity also chimes well with the gen­eral mood of the pub­lic.

“Fru­gal­ity and a re­turn to the sports are the main con­cepts of the games. More im­por­tantly, thrift is the pub­lic pref­er­ence on hold­ing big events. We are not be­ing fru­gal be­cause of a lack of money but to cre­ate a new so­cial at­mos­phere.”

New venues

Th­ese core con­cepts are also re­flected in the con­struc­tion of sport­ing venues.

The women’s vol­ley­ball com­pe­ti­tion took place in Shenyang Med­i­cal Col­lege be­tween July 10 and July 20, and the col­lege ben­e­fited from a new sports fa­cil­ity.

“What the games left is not only a won­der­ful game, but also the mod­ern gym, which will serve for thou­sands of stu­dents,” said Wu Dong, head of the in­for­ma­tion of­fice at the col­lege.

“Be­sides the con­sid­er­a­tion of sav­ing on con­struc­tion costs, we are mostly con­cerned with the use of the venues af­ter the games,” said Ren Lim­ing, a com­mit­tee of­fi­cer in charge of venue con­struc­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to fig­ures sup­plied by the or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee, of the 117 venues al­lot­ted for the games, 25 are newly built, rep­re­sent­ing an in­vest­ment of 3.27 bil­lion yuan, of which 1.21 bil­lion yuan is from the govern­ment, ac­count­ing for 37 per­cent of the bill. Of the newly built venues, only 10 were specif­i­cally built with the games in mind, ac­count­ing for just 8.5 per­cent of the to­tal num­ber of sta­di­ums.

Of the re­main­ing 15 venues, nine are built in uni­ver­si­ties that lacked sport­ing fa­cil­i­ties, while six have been built in Hu­lu­dao and Pan­jin, two cities founded in the 1980s that did not have pub­lic sports fa­cil­i­ties.

“We also chose densely pop­u­lated ar­eas in the dis­tri­bu­tion of venues be­ing built, to make it con­ve­nient for lo­cal peo­ple to get ex­er­cise. More­over, com­mer­cial ex­ploita­tion af­ter the games has been con­sid­ered. We have tried to cre­ate con­di­tions for com­mer­cial use of the venues in the fu­ture,” Ren said.

The Shenyang Qi­pan­shan In­ter­na­tional Scenery Tourism De­vel­op­ment Zone is host­ing sev­eral road cycling, BMX and moun­tain bik­ing events at the games. Once the games are fin­ished, it plans to keep the tracks and other fa­cil­i­ties in place and host cycling com­pe­ti­tions in the fu­ture, at­tract­ing ath­letes from home and abroad.

“It’s one of the con­no­ta­tions

In con­trast to the thrift in­volved in host­ing the games, Liaon­ing is gen­er­ous in pro­mot­ing healthy life­styles, with more and more sport­ing fa­cil­i­ties avail­able to the gen­eral pub­lic.

Ac­cord­ing to statis­tics from the Liaon­ing sports bureau, all the 3,688 ur­ban com­mu­ni­ties of the prov­ince have built ex­er­cise paths, which pro­vide space in which res­i­dents can take sim­ple ex­er­cise of var­i­ous kinds. There are now 1,006 fit­ness cen­ters avail­able to lo­cal cit­i­zens, while 44.8 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion takes reg­u­lar phys­i­cal ex­er­cise, ac­cord­ing to the Liaon­ing sports bureau.

“Un­der­tak­ing the 12th National Games is not the dream of a sin­gle per­son, but the dream of all the peo­ple of Liaon­ing. We hope ev­ery­one will be in­volved in the games. It is the cho­rus of the peo­ple of Liaon­ing,” He Min said. Con­tact the writ­ers at li­uce@ chi­nadaily.com.cn and zhucheng­pei@ chi­nadaily.com.cn Zhang Xiaomin in Dalian con­trib­uted to this story.

PHO­TOS BY HEI KE / FOR CHINA DAILY

Per­form­ers on stilts prac­tice a rou­tine on Thurs­day for the open­ing cer­e­mony of the 12th National Games in Shenyang.

Vol­un­teers wrote their names on pa­per cups for re­use at a sta­dium of the games.

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