All smiles and niceties as Beijing set to open Games
Even stone-faced officers manage to grin under the huge signboards of
“Smiling Beijing Traffic Police” recently erupted on Beijing’s streets.
With only five days to go before the Olympics open, Beijing is all
smiles and niceties to worldwide athletes, coaches, journalists and
other Olympic visitors in town.
Liu Zhiqiang, 21, smiles a hearty smile every time a tourist poses
for a photo next to him. From where he stands guard on the Tiananmen
Square in the heart of Beijing, one captures an ideal angle of the huge
Olympic countdown clock, the square and a corner of the blue sky.
“I’m really proud of my job,” said Liu. “My old pals all envy me.”
When Liu became a soldier with the Armed Police Force, the Games were at
least 1,300 days away. Now he said he heard the footsteps of the Games.
Smiles and greetings surround Olympic journalists at the North Star
media village and Huiyuan media village, about 15 minutes and nine
minutes respectively from the Main Press Center by bus.
More than 8,900 people are serving accredited Olympic journalists in
the 10.2-hectare media village with 6,000 rooms, the largest in Olympic
From TV programs and hot water temperature to the height of toilets,
all facilities in the rooms have been fine-tuned to be convenient and
“What can I do for you?” smiling volunteers would come up at the
villagers’ briefest sign of hesitation. At the two media villages,
restaurant managers in suit and tie strike up friendly little chats with
diners to check on the quality of food and take note of their advice.
Among the immediate results of these chats is the inclusion of some
spicy dishes in the buffet, at some Chinese journalists’ suggestion.
In the largest athletes’ village ever in Olympic history, a team of
international hotel management professionals and multilingual volunteers
greet the guests from smiles and hospitality. Even IOC President Jacques
Rogge praised the athletes’ village as the “best ever”.
“I’ve never seen a village like this,” said Rogge, who competed in
three Olympics in sailing and stays in the village during the Games.
Photos with the smiling faces of volunteers are posted on a wall at the
journalists’ working area in the Huiyuan media village.
“We hope these smiling faces would make the journalists feel at home
at the end of a tiring day,” said Qi Lulu, an English major at Beijing
Foreign Studies University.
Qi, who will be a sophomore in September, was one of the volunteers
who proposed the wall of smiling faces in the media village. A native of
Nanjing in east China’s Jiangsu Province, Qi said she was often touched
by the “magic of a friendly smile” herself.
“When I took a crowded bus to school after work the other day, a
smiling lady in her 40s insisted that I take her seat. She said I must
have worked hard and need a good rest.” Qi, in her blue and white
T-shirt for all volunteers, is not so noticeable in the crowds of her
peers at the media village but certainly stands out on a bus. “The lady
said she, too, had applied to be a volunteer but somehow failed.”
Some 100,000 taxi drivers changed into smart new yellow shirts and
striped ties on Saturday, in one of Beijing’s latest efforts to spruce
up the city’s looks for the Olympics.
The uniforms, which cost about 500 yuan (75 U.S. dollars), are
believed to be partly subsidized by the government.
In the run-up to the Games, Beijing’s taxi drivers have also learned
English, been banned from smoking in the cars and kept car seats
untainted to make Olympic visitors feel at home. An additional 7,000
automobiles are serving the Games, including about 900 media buses
shuttling between the two media villages, 42 media hotels, more than 30
competition venues in Beijing and the MPC and IBC near the Olympic
“A group of British journalists told me the other night our services
were ‘very impressive’ and better than other Olympic cities they had
been to,” said Shang Zhiquan, deputy coordination manager for media
transport with the Beijing Games organizers.
BEIJING, Monday, Xinhua