Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, August 21, 2008


By Syeda Shamin Mortada

The historical and ancient place, which boasts one of the wonders of the world, has gone through extra ordinary transformation towards an imperial one because of the Olympics. Beijing, the Chinese capital has been redesigned and remade to make it dazzle and draw about 50,000 foreigners and 10,500 athletes' from 205 different countries coming for the sole purpose of sports gala. It is said that the Chinese government has spent about US$ 40 billion in modernising the city by building new skyscrapers, Olympic Games venues and improving the transportation system. The Swiss designed national stadium also known as the bird's nest has taken the centre stage; this architectural marvel seats 91,000 people. The Water Cube or the National Aquatic Centre, is favourite among the Beijingers, it is a simple building made of steel grid clad in a bubble wrap, which changes its colour from white to pale blue when the sunshine finds it. Construction work turned into a round the clock frenzy as the host city seemed determined to make a great impression for guests and convey an innovative and forward looking image to the outside world.

Since China had won their rights in 2001 to host this year's Green Olympics, it had taken little respite. The transformations have gone way beyond the eye boggling architecture; China has worked meticulously in altering the population, improving the environment and making the city greener, cleaner and shinier. Signs of Beijing Olympic facelift are everywhere even the major tourist attractions have been decorated for the visitors. Buildings received fresh coats, roads were repaved and about four billion blossoming flowers, some especially bred for the Olympics have been displayed. Construction work and factory production have been halted and 3.3 million cars have been ordered off the road in an effort to cut pollution and host the promised Green Olympics. Thousands of Beijing taxi drivers have received trainings in English and etiquette and millions other participated in online training programme on proper behaviour and guest dealing. Security has been bolstered up and 750,000 armed forces across China have descended upon Beijing. A 100,000 strong anti-terrorism force and surface-to-air missiles have also been deployed around major venues.

Smoking is banned in various places, may bars and restaurants have been shut down and bilingual sign boards have been erected through out the city. About 500,000 volunteers have been placed near the Olympic venues and popular places to aid the foreign guests. These volunteers went through rigorous training on proper posture and behaviour. All pirated DVDs have been pulled off the shelf, western toilets have replaced the squat models and the Capital Committee to Promote Culture and Ideological Progress has induced a fine of $7 for those caught spitting in public. The Beijingers have also received strict instructions not to pick their nose, scratch their heads or barge and push in buses and public transport. The Olympic organizers even decided to take control on the most unpredictable matter of all-the weather! While army of workers toiled with their brushes, spades, hammers and pots of plants the meteorologists worked on the sky attempting to make sure it did not rain on the opening day providing a meteorological umbrella over the 'Bird's Nest'.

With a bluer sky, improved air quality, hospitable hosts with an extreme emotional change and a complete makeover of the city, this Olympics has turned out to be the most expensive in history. Land in Beijing now and you will probably hear the euphoric Chinese crowd chanting “Go Olympics, Go Beijing!” with full of pride, joy and nationalism.


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