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China readies for Games

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

When Beijing hosts the 2008 Summer Olympics, Wang Haichen hopes the spectators aren’t stuck in traffic jams stretching for miles.

A district official in Beijing, Wang says the Olympic organizers, the government in Beijing and regular Chinese are preparing for an event that he says will be "special."

"We want to give the whole world a big surprise," Wang says.

He recently visited the Park City area, including a stop at the Utah Olympic Park, one of the busiest venues during the 2002 Winter Olympics. Wang and his entourage toured the Olympic museum at the park, posing for a picture with a torch from the Utah Games.

Wang says the Olympic planners have devised a transportation plan for Beijing that relies on subways and a Games shuttle. But he concedes the roads will be jammed with cars as well, even as the organizers prepare special measures to reduce traffic.

"Our government pays attention to the environment, such as air pollution, for a long time, and especially for the 2008 Olympic Games," he says.

The organizers want people in Beijing to carpool, and people in some spots will be restricted to driving every other day, based on their license-plate numbers.

"I think, at that time, this is a necessary measure," he says.

Wang is in the U.S. as a part of the Philadelphia-based Eisenhower Fellowships, a seven-week program.

Deedee Corradini, who helped organize Wang’s visit to the Park City area and was the mayor of Salt Lake City as the Games approached, says transportation during the Olympics will challenge Beijing, as it does other Olympic cities.

She describes Salt Lake City’s efforts to urge people to take buses and TRAX instead of driving.

Corradini says she also spoke to Wang about Olympic legacies, and he heard about financial issues related to the Games.

"Any city that hosts the Olympics has huge challenges," she says.


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