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February 28, 2006

Start slowing down construction jobs, Beijing officials told

TURIN, Italy

Even before they’re over, the Winter Games in Turin are being overshadowed by Beijing, with expectations soaring that the 2008 Summer Olympics will be like none other as Beijing resembles a huge construction zone.

Beijing is setting itself up to be what Turin is not, rigorously planned and wildly enthusiastic. Turin’s people have been criticized as lacklustre fans. The city’s $3.4-billion US spending on the Olympics has been utilitarian, upgrading the 1930s era Stadio Comunale for the opening and closing ceremonies and building the Olympic Village for athletes on the site of a 70-year-old fruit and vegetable market.

By contrast, though summer games are three to four times the scale of winter ones, Beijing will spend more than 10 times what Turin did. It’s dotting the skyline with signature structures; a $380-million National Stadium covered in a bird’s nest-like lattice of steel, a nearly $2-billion new terminal and runway for the airport.

IOC officials, which have expressed full confidence in the Chinese efforts, have told Beijing to slow down construction, lest venues be completed too early and increase operating and maintenance costs.

DCN News Services

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