Sunday, July 6, 2008

Beijing Olympics Notes

Here are some very interesting stats from the New York Chinese Consulate about the upcoming Beijing Olympics:

Official Olympics Website is here

Beijing will host the 2008 Olympic Games on August 8, 2008. Now Beijing is making a great effort to use every day available to ensure that it will be a "High level Olympic Games with distinguishing features." The following are some issues about the 2008 Olympics which you may be interested in.

Olympic venue construction is one of the fundamental works for a successful Olympiad. The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games will begin on August 8, 2008, and will run for 16 days. Throughout this period, athletes from 203 National Olympic Committees will compete in 28 sports to win 302 gold medals. All these competitions will be held at 37 venues. Six of them are located outside of Beijing in the city of Hong Kong for equestrianism, Qingdao for sailing, and Shanghai, Tianjin, Qinhuangdao and Shenyang for football preliminaries, whereas the remaining 31 are all in Beijing, including 12 new venues, 11 renovated venues and 8 temporary venues.

At present, Olympic venue construction is in good progress. All of the construction projects will be completed by the end of 2007. Various test events will be held to ensure their readiness for the Olympics.

As for ticket sales for the Olympic Games, according to BOCOG (Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the 29th Olympiad), there are 9 million tickets available. Over 7 million tickets from these will be available for sale. About 20 to 25 percent of these tickets will be sold abroad. According to the ticketing policy, the prices for sports sessions will range approximately between 4 to 130 US dollars. For preliminary competitions, the price will be between 4 and 40 US dollars, while for the finals, the range will be between 8 and 130 US dollars. The lowest priced ticket for the Opening Ceremony will be about 25 US dollars, while the highest priced ticket will be 650 US dollars. The lowest price for the Closing Ceremony will be about 20 US dollar, and the highest will be 400 US dollars.

For the preparation of accommodations, it is estimated that about five hundred thousand (500,000) to five hundred and fifty thousand (550,000) foreign visitors will go to Beijing during the Olympic Games. Fifty thousand (50,000) of them will be members of the Olympic family, and about two hundred and sixty thousand (260,000) to three hundred and twenty thousand (320,000) visitors will be spectators. They will be joined by about one hundred and fifty thousand (150,000) to two hundred thousand (200,000) regular visitors. In view of these, visitors' accommodation has become a concern.

However, Beijing has the necessary accommodation capacity to satisfy visitors' needs for the Olympics and more. Beijing currently has a total of 4723 accommodation facilities. 700 of them are star-rated tourist hotels and 4023 of them are not rated properties. In addition, 80 hotels are under construction and renovation, and will aspire to become star-rated properties. All together, the daily accommodation capacity for Beijing will be over two hundred eighty six thousand and nine hundred (286,900) rooms or five hundred seventy two thousand and five hundred (572,500) beds.

Room rates: from the 112 properties contracted by the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the 29th Olympiad (BOCOG), the average rate for a five-star hotel room will be about US$429 per room night and US$353 for a standard room, while that for a four-star hotel room will be US$305 and US$272 for a standard room, and for a three-star US$193 per room night and US$176 for a standard room.

As for transportation, Beijing is constantly improving the transportation facilities. Beijing is upgrading and enlarging its international airport, and is building a new subway system and 8 new expressways to ease traffic. In 2008, there will be 718 kilometres or 446 miles of expressways-up from the present 500 kilometres or 311 miles; and the total travel distance of the subway and light-rail system will increase from 114 kilometres or 71 miles, to 300 kilometres or 186 miles. In addition, the traffic management department of Beijing City will adopt a plan to allow for special dedicated traffic lanes for the Olympics. This will ensure that people can quickly and safely get to and from the competition venues in good time.

About the General Policy for Volunteers of the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games: A total of 70,000 volunteers are required for the Beijing Olympic Games while about 30,000 volunteers will be needed for the Paralympics. Volunteers for these games will mainly be recruited from college students studying in Beijing. There will also be a certain number of volunteers from the overseas Chinese community, foreigners and international students in China, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and the various provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions of China. The volunteer application has started from August 2006 and shall end in March 2008. Applications from the overseas Chinese community, foreigners and international students in China, Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan will start only from March 2007. Although this last group of volunteers is an integral part of the Beijing Olympic and Pralympic Games, their specific numbers shall be determined based on situational needs.

For more information about the 2008 Beijing Olympics, please visit

Lassen National Park, Northern California

Sunset Magazine is profiling Lassen National Park in Northern California, showcasing Lassen as a hidden treasure of the west. Although I'd agree that Lassen is a neat place to visit on an extended stay in the west, for me Lassen simply does not match the superlatives of Yosemite or Redwoods National Park the Oregon Coast, or many more of the amazing natural wonders here in the American West.

If you love National Park trips you'll want to consider flying in and out of San Francisco and then driving southeast to Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks they share a border), then up to Yosemite, then Lassen, then North to Oregon's Crater Lake. You can visit these five national parks in a week although you'll probably want to spend more time.