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  Qingdao's bid for 'sailing city' status  



QINGDAO: The mayor of Qingdao, the host city for sailing regatta of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, believes the city will take advantage of the chance to establish itself as a recognized "Sailing City" globally.

"There are 154 Olympic-related projects currently under construction. We are investing more than 70 billion yuan (US$8.75 billion)," said Xia Geng.

"There are also test events being held this year and next year. It is a great opportunity to spread Qingdao's reputation of being a hot tourist destination. The government and citizens should grasp the opportunity and try their best to spread the word about Qingdao."

The Qingdao International Sailing Centre for the Games of the 29th Olympiad is located on the old site of Beihai shipyard, by Qingdao's Fushan Bay in China's Shandong Province. The centre will cover a total area of 45 hectares (450,000 square metres), two-thirds of which will be utilized for competitions.

Before the 2008 gala, a number of major international and national sailing events will be held.

The 2006 International Regatta, commenced over the weekend and running until August 31, will feature sailors from 41 countries and regions and is a significant test run for the Beijing Olympics.

It is seen as an important international Olympic-class regatta that will help Qingdao prepare for the Beijing 2008 Games, when 11 sailing events from nine categories will be held in the co-host city, with 11 gold medals up for grabs.

The Qingdao International Sailing Centre is comprised of the harbour and an off-shore section, as well as an area which will house the administration and competition management centre, the athletes' village, the press centre, the logistics and function centre, and other affiliated facilities.

The harbour and off-shore projects include engineering of the major and secondary breakwater, an embankment, a quay featuring the Olympic Memorial Wall, and the renovation of the shore wall.

The quay, the secondary breakwater, and the embankment will enclose an area of 15.5 hectares (155,000 square metres), while the major breakwater, together with the embankment, will occupy 7.5 hectares (75,000 square metres).

"Since Beijing won its bid for the 2008 Games, Qingdao has been doing everything possible to ensure a successful sailing event," said Xia.

Organizers said the sailing courses were planned as closely as possible to resemble the 2008 Olympic race courses and all activities will be carried out following the Olympic system.

The venue is said to be not only a competition venue, but an environmentally-friendly leisure area for city residents and visitors.

"We have built this marina for all of Qingdao's citizens, rather than purely for the Olympic Games," said Li Fengli, deputy secretary-general of the Sailing Committee (Qingdao) of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG).

"We have organized all kinds of activities to help spread awareness of sailing among residents of the city."

Beautiful city

A unique blend of sea and mountains and a pleasant climate make Qingdao extraordinary. It has an average temperature of 12.2 degrees Celsius and a total length of coastline (including that of its 69 offshore islands) of 862.64 kilometres, of which 730 kilometres are continental.

Half a century ago, Qingdao started the sport of sailing.

A spokesperson from the International Sailing Committee said since 1956, aquatic sports like sailing, yachting, water skiing and naval pentathlons have been seen in the city.

Xia said thanks to the long coast line and the large number of bays, there will be 1000 sailing boats and at least 10,000 people involved in the sport in the near future.

Also in a bid to make the sport more entertaining, 13 aquatic clubs reached an agreement in May to set up a sailing federation, and will provide more chances for citizens to get involved in the sport.

"There have been four international navigation exhibitions in the city. All the shows and the competitions serve as a platform for communicating with overseas experts. They have helped to boost tourism and also the Olympic economy of the city," said the mayor.

"We launched a number of city promotions in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, France, the US and Australia."

According to Xia, the April "New Beijing, Great Olympics" promotional campaign in Australia, attracted around 20,000 visitors who asked for souvenirs and information.

Leading companies are also unable to resist the temptation of Olympic-mania.

Tsingtao Beer, a leading Chinese brewery, joined the elite club of sponsors of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games last year and its marketing programmes were launched around the nation.

After sponsoring the Xiamen International Marathon, Qingdao found success during the World Cup promotion by popularizing the slogan "Watch the World Cup, Drink Tsingtao Beer" on the screens.

The company will also fund beer products and provide related services to the Beijing 2008 Olympics and Paralympics, BOCOG, the Chinese Olympic Committee and the Chinese sports delegations to the 2008 Olympics.

Haier is another brand making headway in China.

Innovation and good service have enabled the brand to rise from China's household appliance industry and earn a great reputation worldwide. Now Haier's technology for electricity-proof walls has become the accepted international standard and its washing machine technology is just as good.





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