TAN Hua 谭华

Company’s coming—lots of company—and China has made the dust fly: renovating or building thirty-six gymnasiums and stadiums and fifty-nine training centers as China prepared to host the 2008 Olympics—not only in Beijing but in Tianjin, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Qingdao, and Qinhuangdao.

New venues include the Beijing National Stadium, Beijing National Indoor Stadium, Beijing National Aquatics Center, Olympic Green Convention Center, Olympic Green, and Beijing Wukesong Culture and Sports Center. Some will be owned and governed by the State General Administration of Sports, for use after the Olympics as facilities for future national sports teams and events, while US$2.1 billion (17.4 billion Renminbi [RMB]) in corporate bids and tenders are expected to fund almost 85 percent of the construction, with investment from corporations that will have ownership rights after the Olympics.

Sports Venues in Beijing

The concepts of both centralization and decentralization—“one center plus three areas”—were used in the general distribution of the sports venues in Beijing. The “one center” is the Olympic Green, and the “three areas” are the University Area, the Western Community Area, and the North Scenic Spot Area. Five other venues, including the Workers’ Stadium, will be renovated or expanded to facilitate cultural and sports activities for neighboring residents after hosting training and contests of the Olympics.

Olympic Green

The Beijing Olympic Green 北京奥林匹克公园 is the central area for the Olympic contests, along with the National Stadium, the National Sports Venue, and the National Aquatics Center, as well as the Conference Center, which will serve as a temporary fencing hall. After the Olympics the Conference Center will serve as a conference and exhibition site, and the Olympic Green will become a public activity center for sports contests, conferences, exhibitions, entertainment, shopping, and cultural and commercial activities.

National Stadium

The National Stadium 国家体育场—designed by Herzog & De Meuron Architekten, ARUP, and China Architecture Design & Research Group and known as the “Bird’s Nest”—lies east of the north end of the central axis of Beijing inside the Beijing Olympic Green. With a seating capacity of 100,000, including 20,000 temporary seats, the stadium will be the main venue for the Olympics, where the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as track and field and men’s soccer finals, will be held. The stadium will become a center for sports and other entertainment as well as the host stadium for Beijing Guo’an Soccer Club.

National Aquatics Center

Located inside the Olympic Green, the National Aquatics Center 国家游泳中心, known as H2O3 or the -“water cube,” faces the National Stadium at the north part of Beijing’s central axis. Together they exemplify many of the historical and cultural features of Beijing. The National Aquatics Center is the venue for swimming, diving, synchronized swimming, and water polo events, with a seating capacity of seventeen thousand.

National Indoor Stadium

With a seating capacity of eighteen thousand, the National Indoor Stadium 国家体育馆 is composed of a main hall, a nearby warmup gym, and other outdoor facilities. It will host the artistic gymnastics, trampoline, and handball events. The stadium’s design was inspired by a traditional Chinese folding fan.

Olympic Forest Park

With a total area of about 680 hectares, the Olympic Forest Park 奥林匹克森林公园 is separated into southern and northern districts by Beijing’s North Fifth Ring Road. Covering an area of about 300 hectares, the northern district not only boasts natural ecological landscapes but also serves as a water treatment system. The northern section is equipped with temporary facilities for the Olympics, including hockey and archery fields, tennis courts, and the International District of the Olympic Village. The northern and southern districts are linked by China’s first “ecological corridor,” a bridge astride Beijing’s North Fifth Ring Road provding passage for both wildlife and people.

Olympic Sports Center

The Olympic Sports Center 奥体中心 was the main venue for the Asian Games held in Beijing in 1990, and lies in the southern part of Beijing Olympic Green. Olympic soccer, handball, and the running, equestrian, and swimming events of the modern pentathlon, as well as water polo, will be staged at the main sports stadium and in the Ying Tung Natatorium (once the largest indoor swimming facility in Asia) of the Olympic Sports Center.

University Area

Some events of the Olympics will be held in the gymnasiums of five universities:

  • Peking University Gymnasium 北京大学体育馆 is the venue for table tennis. Equipped with equipped with six thousand permanent seats and two thousand temporary seats, the facility will be adapted for use as a comprehensive gymnasium for the university after the Games.
  • China Agricultural University Gymnasium 中国农业大学体育馆, seating eight thousand, hosts the wrestling events
  • Beijing Science and Technology University Gymnasium 北京科技大学体育馆 is the scene of the judo and tae kwon do events
  • Beijing Institute of Technology Gymnasium 北京理工大学体育馆 is the venue for volleyball
  • Beihang University Gymnasium 北京航空航天大学体育馆 is the venue for weightlifting events

Hong Kong’s Head Start

By early 1938, after the Japanese blockaded Shanghai and other Chinese ports, half of China’s foreign trade was diverted through Hong Kong. Banks such as the Bank of China and the Communications Bank moved to Hong Kong, making the colony the exchange-banking center for all of China. The massive influx of refugees from China exacerbated the colony’s already crowded housing conditions and strained its resources, but Chinese entrepreneurs also brought capital—even entire factories, some of which produced military equipment for the Chinese war effort. This helped build an industrial base that would greatly assist Hong Kong’s economic recovery after the war.

In early 1946, Hong Kong’s population was around one million. Trade had returned to almost 60 percent of its prewar level. During the same year, Hong Kong got its own airline, Cathay Pacific, a predominantly British corporation. The economy recovered so quickly that the government enjoyed a budget surplus for the 1947–48 financial year. Hong Kong’s economy also benefited greatly from the Chinese civil war between the Nationalists and the Communists, as its industry, which was already reasonably well developed, was given a boost by Chinese entrepreneurs escaping the war. The colonial government later estimated that the infusion of capital and business experience from Shanghai gave the colony a head start of at least a decade over the rest of East Asia.

Hong Kong’s colonial history also accounts for its leadership in another area of commerce — horse racing. Founded in 1884, the Hong Kong Jockey Club has long been a world leader in promoting racing and betting. Hong Kong’s reputation as an equestrian sporting center was a major factor in the decision to locate the 2008 Olympic equestrian events here.


Other Beijing Venues

The Capital Gymnasium 首都体育馆 is in Beijing’s Haidian District, in the midst of hotels and parks. The gym accommodates eighteen thousand spectators and will be used for volleyball events.

Western Beijing once was one of the main pollution sources in Beijing. However, after steel plants and other large companies responsible for most of the pollution moved out of Beijing, the area was converted into a number of venues for the Olympics.

  • Beijing Shooting Range Hall 北京射击场 is the scene of eleven shooting events of the Olympics, including rifle, pistol, and running target events and all the shooting events of the Paralympic Games. The trap events take place in the Clay Target Field inside Beijing Shooting Range.
  • Laoshan Velodrome 老山自行车馆 is the cycling venue
  • Wukesong Indoor Stadium 北京五棵松体育中心, part of the Wukesong Culture and Sports Center, hosts the basketball events.
  • Fengtai Softball Field 丰台体育中心垒球场 is the venue for softball events

The North Scenic Spot Area includes such venues as the Olympic Aquatic Park by the Chaobai River in Shunyi, Beijing Country Equestrian Park, and the Xiaotangshan Softball Field in Changping. They will be used mainly for rowing events, canoe/kayak, canoe/kayak slalom, equestrian, and softball events and will become an important district for tourism and leisure vacation in north Beijing.

Other venues within Beijing include Workers’ Stadium 北京工人体育场, which can accommodate the Olympic soccer matches; Chaoyang Park 朝阳公园沙滩排球场, the scene of beach volleyball; and the Thirteen Ming Tombs Reservoir 十三陵水库, the triathalon venue.

Venues outside Beijing

In addition to the many sites for Olympic events in and around Beijing, other cities in China will host events ranging from water sports to soccer.

Qingdao International Sailing Center

On the southern coastline of the Shandong Peninsula sits a beautiful port city, Qingdao City (pop. 7.2 million) of Shandong Province. In the northern part of the city lies Laoshan Mountain, which was said to be a mountain of God in the past. The Qingdao International Sailing Center 青岛奥林匹克帆船中心 is located on the old site of the Qingdao Beihai Shipyard by Fushan Bay on the eastern coast of the city. It will host all of the water sports held at sea during the games.

Shanghai Stadium

As the biggest city in China, Shanghai (17.8 million) serves not only as a center of economics, finance, and cultural education in eastern China but also as the most important hub for marine and air transportation in China. Located at the junction of Metro Line 1 and Inner Ring Road in southwest Shanghai, the Shanghai Stadium 上海体育场 was the main venue for the eighth National Games in 1997. It consists of the main stadium, which has a seating capacity of eighty thousand, the indoor stadium, capable of holding up to ten thousand people, and the Shanghai Aquatic Stadium. It will host some of the soccer competitions.

Tianjin Olympic Center Stadium

Covering a land area of 34.5 hectares, the Tianjin Olympic Center Stadium 天津奥林匹克中心体育场 lies in the Olympic Center of southwest Tianjin. It was designed by Axs Sawto Inc. (Japan), with a grandstand capable of holding sixty thousand spectators. With close proximity to Beijing and a similar climate, Tianjin (pop. 10.3 million) served as a training base for the Olympic teams of several other nations, including Norway.

Qinghuangdao Olympic Stadium

As a summer resort on the coast of the Bohai Sea, Qinghuangdao City (2.6 million) is the scene for some of the soccer preliminaries of the Olympics. The Olympic Center Stadium 秦皇岛市奥体中心体育场 is a six-story stadium that holds thirty-five thousand spectators. The stadium, with the blue sky as its background in the daytime, resembles a white sail rising on the sea. With the light of the floodlights at night, it resembles a large shining seashell resting by the sea — the characteristics of seaside architecture are fully represented. In addition, the sports center has an indoor stadium with a seating capacity of 5,425 as well as a comprehensive gymnasium and two outdoor soccer training fields.

Shenyang Olympic Stadium

Once the capital of the Qing dynasty 清 (1644–1912), Shenyang (pop. 5.3 million) is now the capital of Liaoning Province and a popular soccer city in northeast China. Mukden Palace, the former imperial palace of the early Qing Dynasty (now a UNESCO UNESCO World Heritage Site) is located here. The Olympic Sports Center Stadium 沈阳奥林匹克体育中心, in Wulih 五里河 district, will be one of the soccer preliminary venues in the Olympics.

Hong Kong Sports Institute

The Olympics steeplechase and dressage events’ main competition venues take place in Hong Kong (pop. 7 million) at the Hong Kong Sports Institute 香港奥运马术比赛场. In addition the cross-country events will be held in the Beas River Country Club of the Hong Kong Jockey Club and the adjacent Hong Kong Golf Club.

Source:Tan Hua. (2008). Where the action is. In Fan Hong, Duncan Mackay & Karen Christensen (Eds.), China Gold, China’s Quest for Global Power and Olympic Glory, pp. 98–101. Great Barrington, MA: Berkshire Publishing.

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