Beijing – More Formidable Than Ever

A former Ontario deputy minister of labour and of industry and trade, is convinced that only something like Tiananmen Square or an international military incident, will “dislodge Beijing as the odds-on-favourite for 2008”.

Tim Armstrong says he visited Beijing recently and says Beijing’s new airport is the best in design and function as is the controlled-access highway to downtown Beijing.

And he says the city’s Fourth Ring Road (65.3 kilometres, 147 overpasses) will be completed by the end of the year.

There are also new subway lanes, first class hotels, and more than 140 sports facilities, with some new ones being constructed and others renovated.

Addressing environmental concerns, Armstrong says the city has mounted a centrally-directed pollution clean-up program, and if targets are not met, there are penalties including closure for industrial and other offenders.

Armstrong says its Asia’s turn and awarding them the 2008 Games would confirm China’s full acceptance into the international community, support its committment to economic reform and enhance prospects for political liberalization.

But Armstrong concedes that Toronto has one possible advantage, and its one that should not be discounted at this stage. He says if the International Olympic Committee and NBC determine that television revenues will be significantly higher from a location in a western hemisphere time zone, Toronto’s only compeition will be Havana, “in which case we should be a shoo-in”. Otherwise, he says, “it will surely be a very steep uphill flight”.

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