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"Yes We can" -- Qingdao Gets Ready for Olympic Sailing
    2008-08-05 18:22:00     Xinhua
by Xinhua writers Rong Jiaojiao and Xue Wenxian

The melody of Rod Stewart's "Sailing" was flowing out of the downtown shopping mall. Taxi drivers dressed in white shirts with black ties were waiting in line at the airport. Sailing boats with colorful national flags were speeding against waves on the sea.

Qingdao, where the 2008 Olympic sailing tournament will be held on Aug. 9-21, is gearing up to provide the best possible service for some 400 athletes from 62 countries and regions, who will compete in nine classes for eleven golds.

"Qingdao boasts the fullest preparations for the Olympic sailing among the eight Olympic sailing regattas that I have attended," said International Sailing Federation (ISAF) President Goran Peterson.

"Everyone is so passionate, happy and cheerful. I feel the whole city is ready," he added, after visiting the Olympic sailing center on Aug. 4.

A total of 320 athletes from 60 teams have checked in the Olympic Village as of Aug. 5, experiencing the convenience and coziness of the closest village to the Olympic venue.

"It is very comfortable. It's just two minutes' walk from the marina. That's perfect. In Athens, we were really far. In Sydney, It was one hour from the village to the harbor," said Sandra Azon from the Yngling class of the Spanish sailing team, who won a silver medal in 470 class in Athens 2004.

Azon said the Qingdao Olympic Village was a combination of East and West. "You can find unique traditional Chinese decorations everywhere. In our rooms, however, it is modern, like in Europe. I really feel at home," she said, while filming the lobby of the Olympic Village.

Thanks to the great efforts made by the local government to keep the algae out of the sailing venue, sailing teams from different countries and regions all gave thumbs up for the water condition at the Olympic sailing center.

"Look, (I can see) the fish. The water is clean," said Lionel Cottin, technique official of the French sailing team, adding that the water condition in Qingdao improved a lot from two years ago when the team first arrived for training.

"The whole area is very good. It's a good condition for the competition," he said.

Down to the water and up in the sky, the real time weather forecast has been adopted to ensure a safe and smooth sailing condition for the sailors, according to Wang Xiaoyun, head of the Qingdao Meteorological Bureau.

"Foggy days in August will be 12 days less than in July. So far, we have not forecast any unfavorable weather that would affect the sailing competition," he said.

Smiles from the 1,800 event volunteers at the sailing center also created a friendly environment for the sailors. Among these volunteers, many are students studying abroad and some are foreigners.

Chu Siyao, 20, is a sophomore from the King's College, University of London. She chose to spend her summer vacations volunteering in Qingdao as a flash quote reporter.

"When I was abroad, I felt some foreigners had some misunderstandings and confusion about China. So I want to use my overseas experiences and my Chinese culture background to help the East and West know each other better," said the girl, who has stayed in London for six years.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me," said Maggie Steckiel, a 22-year-old American volunteer for the Olympic News Service, who studied Chinese in the Qingdao-based Ocean University of China.

"The Chinese people have done a great great job here. Hope I could help with the volunteer service and promote sailing in China, " she said.

The citizens of Qingdao also jumped in the preparation to sail their city to Olympic glory. Since Aug. 1, smoking has been banned in public places in Qingdao. For taxi driver Wang Kelin, he not only reminded himself not to smoke in the taxi, but also advised his passengers against smoking.

"Citizens represent the city best. We shall let our foreign guests feel a friendly and comfortable sailing city," said Wang.

"Yes we can," said Wang Wei, vice president of the sailing committee (Qingdao) of the BOCOG, at a press conference on Qingdao's preparation for the Olympic sailing.

"Qingdao will present to the world a high-level Olympic sailing regatta with distinguishing features," he said.
 
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