Beijing celebrates 1-year countdown to Olympics


BEIJING, August 8 - Tiananmen Square turned into a festival of jubilation Wednesday night as over 10,000 people from around the world gathered in the heart of China to celebrate the one-year countdown to the 2008 Olympic Games.


As the countdown clock in front of the Chinese National Museum struck the exact moment of the one-year countdown, fireworks lit the sky before International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge presented Beijing Olympics invitation letters to various National Olympic Committees (NOCs).


A number of senior Chinese officials joined in the celebration at Tiananmen Square, including Wu Bangguo, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the NPC and member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, and Liu Qi, President of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2008 Games.


"We welcome athletes, coaches, officials, spectators and journalists to participate in, observe and report the Beijing 2008Olympic Games," Wu Bangguo told the crowds.


"We will provide quality services for them in accordance with Olympic standards, and create favorable conditions to facilitate their work, visit and participation in competitions," he said.


Rogge paid tributes to the work done by Beijing, saying the local organizers have worked extremely hard to give Beijing an Olympic shape.


"The world is watching China and Beijing with GREat expectation. The athletes also have GREat expectations and they are all looking forward to competing in the state-of-the-art Beijing venues," he said.


Rogge also said that China would GREet the world with an entirely new image when the Olympics open next August.


"Beijing and China will not only host a successful Games for the world's premier athletes, but will also provide an excellent opportunity to discover China, its history, its culture, and its people, with China opening itself to the world in new ways," he said.


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