Beijing Gets Ready For 2008

Although Beijing is considered the front runner to host the 2008 Summer Olympics, there are concerns about the city’s traffic and environmental problems. In fact Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman complained about Beijing’s traffic congestion when he returned from a trip to the city several months ago. Toronto is considered to be in second place following Beijing to host the 2008 Olympics.

But Beijing is trying to address these concerns. The city’s Fourth Ring Road is to be completed sometime this year. Built about 2.5 kilometres away from the Third Ring Road, the new road is 65.3 kilometres in length, has 147 overpasses and is designed for a traffic flow of 80 to 100 kilometres per hour, faster than that of the city’s other two ring roads that are 55-65 kilometres per hour.

Instead of buses connecting Beijing’s subway lines, a new subway connection was opened recently and will increase the average hourly passenger volume of the Fuba subway to more than 27,000 passengers.

Beijing’s air and water is being cleaned up. In 1999 air quality was clean or at a slightly polluted level for 274 days of the year, 51 days longer than in the previous year.

At the same time 95.5 per cent of local industrials enterprises met the city standards of pollution control. And a group of ecological friendly urban facilities have started operation.

The city has also increased the area of green lands to the equivalent of 35.3 per cent of downtown areas in 1999. Now forest and trees cover 42 per cent of the whole of Beijing.

Between 2003 and 2007 Beijing intends to invest 6.5 billion U.S. dollars to protect and improve its ecological environment and 5.5 billion U.S. Dollars will have been spent between 1998 and 2002 on environmental protection. The city expects the environment quality will be greatly improved by 2007 and will easily meet the environmental requirements of an Olympic host city.

Beijing now has 40 well-equipped large stadiums and 106 sporting facilities. A number of new sports centers are being designed or are under construction.

The Beijing Committee of Applying for Hosting Olympic Games has 76 members representing the various ministries of the State Council and the Beijing Municipal Government.