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US chiefs say Beijing's impact will be huge

Written by: Staff

RALEIGH, North Carolina, Sep 11 (Reuters) US Olympic chief Peter Ueberroth has witnessed the glory of sport as organiser of the 1984 Los Angeles Games and commissioner of Major League Baseball. Now he believes an even bigger spectacle is on the horizon.

''As we all look toward the (2008) Olympic Games in Beijing, I think that this will certainly be the most important sporting event, certainly in my lifetime,'' the 68-year-old Ueberroth said recently.

''This is actually larger than a sporting event. It is a country's step on to the centre stage,'' said Ueberroth, the U.S.

Olympic Committee (USOC) chairman.

The Games' footprints would reach far beyond sport and China, said USOC chief executive officer Jim Scherr.

''It will be one of the defining moments of our generation, not only athletically and for sports, but culturally, socially and economically,'' Scherr said.

More than half the Earth's population would watch television images of China's show, Ueberroth said.

They would see a coming-out party like no other, he predicted.

''The quality of the venues will be at a new level,'' Ueberroth told reporters during a joint teleconference with Scherr.

''The preparations both in cost and effort, and personnel and training, will be at a level that is not yet being conceived in any other sporting event.'' ''They will leave no stone unturned,'' Ueberroth said.

OLYMPIC COSTS An estimated billion will be spent in upgrading Beijing's infrastructure for the Games, with around 2 billion dollar in direct Olympics costs. Half of the latter will be paid by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Athens had about 12 billion euros (.43 billion) for the 2004 Games, according to the country's finance minister. This included the cost of constructions such as venues, athletes' and media villages, revamping of existing sites, access roads, the new Athens tram and security.

Almost 20,000 elite Chinese athletes, utilising 195 centralised training departments in 31 provinces, were seeking to become 2008 Olympians, Scherr said.


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