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Beijing organizer sees 2008 Games breaking even
Updated: 2006-03-07 08:53

BEIJING - Organizers aren't counting on the Beijing Olympics to turn a big profit. "My sense is that the games will break even, but we're unlikely to make a lot of money," Tu Mingde, the Chinese Olympic Committee vice president, told The Associated Press on Sunday.

"It's like having people over to dinner. The food may be not so expensive, but you need to select the right furniture, carpets, and so on."

Tu, who is attending the congress' annual legislative session, said organizers are avoiding waste but will spend what is necessary for a first-rate Olympics.

He added that the 2008 Games won't compete for funding with the government's goal of aiding the rural poor. Earlier, a member of the legislature, the National People's Congress, urged that Olympic spending take into account the country's widespread rural poverty.

"We cannot afford an extravagant event," delegate Zhang Guiyi was quoted as saying on Friday.

In a report Sunday to the congress, Premier Wen Jiabao said Beijing will spend an extra $5.2 billion on schools, hospitals, crop subsidies and other programs to help the poor countryside, home to 800 million people, and others left behind by China's economic boom.

China is also spending lavishly on Olympic preparations, although Tu pointed out that much is going toward new subways and other infrastructure improvements that will benefit Beijing long after the games.

About $2.4 billion is going toward construction of Olympic venues alone and another $35 billion to $40 billion on urban renewal. Projects range from new power, water and sewage treatment plants to the world's largest airport terminal.

Tu said sentiments such as those Zhang expressed showed Olympic organizers needed to do a better job of conveying the message that sponsors will pick up much of the tab for the games.

"People have the impression that the government will provide all the money, and that's just not true," he said.
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