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Beijing seeks to solve post-Games headache
(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-01-20 07:00

Many Olympic venues fall overnight from the zenith of grandeur into the abyss of oblivion once the Games end and remain sitting idol.

Huge investments go into their construction, which seem to be for nothing but the Games' half-month glory alone. Moreover, large sums of money are required for their maintenance following the Games.

This is a universal problem faced by all host cities. Moscow, Los Angeles, Seoul, Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney and Athens have all had the same headache. The only difference lies in the degrees of intensity.

Beijing, the next host city, is bound to find the same problem once the 2008 Olympics conclude.

How can this be avoided? What can Beijing learn from its predecessors' experiences and lessons? Athens, the immediate predecessor, is doing something about it and may offer some useful ideas for the Chinese capital in this regard.

A company, the Greek Olympic Property SA, was founded in 2002 to handle venue affairs after the Athens Games. It began operating in 2004 and has been involved in the post-Olympic development and management of facilities, said Christos Hadjiemmanuil, president of the company, in an interview with a group of Chinese journalists last week in Athens.

The operation of the company is governed by market forces much like privately owned firms, although the Greek Olympic Properties SA and all the venues are owned by the state, according to Hadjiemmanuil.

The company oversees the management of 15 Olympic complexes (or 22 individual Olympic facilities) while the other two firms are in charge of the rest.

All 15 complexes have been put forward for international bids for their post-Olympic use. The first-phase bidding has been completed but the outcome has yet to be announced. The second phase will be conducted at the end of February and the third phase at the end of March, according to Hadjiemmanuil.

Fortunately, the venue construction contractors are currently responsible for the maintenance and management of the venues because the signed contracts stated that the contractors should bear the maintenance costs of the venues in a given period of time after the Games, he said.
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