BY MIGUEL HERNANDEZ - firstname.lastname@example.org -
Eight is a lucky number in Chinese culture, and as such, the Beijing Olympic Games will kick off on August 8, 2008 at exactly 8:08 p.m.
Today marks the beginning of the one-year countdown to what many hope will be “the best games in history,” as frequently stated by International Olympic Committee (IOC) Honorary President Juan Antonio Samaranch.
Representatives from the 205 sports delegations from the same number of national Olympic committees are on hand in the Chinese capital for the traditional meeting of heads of missions held a year before the opening of the games.
Cuba is represented by Roberto Leon Richard, vice president of the National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (INDER), and Rene Perez, head of the high performance athlete division.
A two-hour gala for the visitors takes place Wednesday evening which will include the delivery of the official invitations to attend the Beijing Olympic Games. IOC President Jacques Rogge will head the ceremony.
Likewise, several test events will take place over the coming days including, the World Youth Rowing Championship in the new Shunyi canal north of Beijing and an international field hockey tournament at Olympic Green Park. The test runs of the facilities also include Hong Kong which will host an equestrian competition.
In opening the gathering of Olympic Committee heads of mission, Rogge expressed his confidence in the success of the Beijing Games. He urged for an increased effort to prevent doping scandals and noted the commitment of the Chinese to work hard to improve air quality including plans for a significant reduction of the number of cars circulating during the event.