Beijing spends billions on Olympics

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Beijing is undergoing a massive infrastructure programme that will see thousands of new hotel rooms and transportation facilities to accommodate the one million people expected to descend on the Chinese capital for the 2008 Olympics. Spokesman for the Beijing Olympics organising committee, Shao Shiwei said funds would not only come from the government, but also through sponsorship arrangements and marketing partnerships. “We are very confident of handling the Games successfully.” By 2008, Beijing would need 130,000 star-rated hotels to house the one million athletes, journalists, officials, spectators and tourists expected then. Currently Beijing has about 90,000 rooms and the additional capacity would be met by newly built hotels and upgrading of existing three and four-star hotels. Earlier estimates had put the growth of Beijing’s star-rated rooms at seven percent from 2002 till 2008. “We have four years still and we will build Beijing into a comfortable city for our visiting guests.” Shao said about US$2 billion will be spent on this – just a fraction of the US$200 billion (1,500 billion yuan) to be invested in the next few years on a range of sectors, according to the Beijing Municipal Government. Here’s a sampling of the mind-boggling figures: Expenditure on new sporting facilities (such as the National Stadium above) will cost 22 billion yuan (US$2.7 billion). City infrastructure and service industry: up to 280 billion yuan. New expressways: 31 billion yuan. New public transport system: 55 billion yuan. Environmental protection: 36 billion yuan. Development of finance, trade, logistics, exhibition and tourism sectors: 200 - 300 billion yuan. Development of new urban areas: up to 800 billion yuan. Already congested with 13 million residents, and a transport system choking with rapid economic growth, Shao admitted it needs serious consideration. “We are a developing city and it’s a reality. We have 2.3 million cars now and every year, 100,000 new ones are added.” He said a light rail system is being developed and various measures would be taken to alleviate the situation. “We would increase parking fees and control the flow of people into the downtown area. We will also develop satellite cities. “We will also allow certain organisations to have holidays during this period,” he said.

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