Modern Guangzhou hosts ethnic games with all heart 2007-11-11 19:54:14   Print

    By Sportswriter Gao Peng

    GUANGZHOU, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese Traditional Games of Ethnic Nationalities are taking place in the most unlikely place.

    Guangzhou, one of China's richest and most modern cities that has a small population of ethnic groups, is playing host to the 8th national ethnic games. It is for the first time that the quadrennial games are held outside ethnic autonomous regions.

    Yet the provincial capital of Guangdong is sparing no efforts to deliver the best-ever ethnic games.

    "We hope to make all the participants feel at home," said Zhao Nanxian, deputy secretary-general of the Guangzhou municipal government.

    In previous national ethnic games, organizers put the athletes of the same sport in one hotel despite their whereabouts. But this time Guangzhou made a change.

    "We put the participants of each delegation in the same hotel. When they come back to the hotel every day, they can get together to share their happiness and stories," said Zhao.

    China has 56 ethnic groups, most of whom have their own languages. Han Chinese accounts for 91.9 percent of the Chinese population, while Zhuang, Uygur, Hui, Yi, Tibetan, Miao, Manchu, Mongolian, Buyi, Korean, and other nationalities 8.1 percent.

    Though Guangzhou, home to the annual China Open badminton championships and a WTA event, is one of the busiest Chinese cities on the sports calendar alongside Beijing and Shanghai, the city lacks the experience of staging ethnic sporting events, said Zhao.

    "The venues required for ethnic sports are different from those Olympic sports, so we have built and renovated 22 venues for the games," he said.

    "We also enlisted Muslim chefs from Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and Gansu Province to cook Islamic food."

    Moreover, spearheaded by Olympic champions Chen Weiqiang and Yang Jinghui, 8,000 volunteers with "smile" badges are working on shifts to serve the Nov. 10-18 games, and 1,000 service stations are scattered across the city to provide assistance to tourists. More than 1,000 shuttle buses are commuting between the venues from eight o'clock to midnight every day.

    Zhao admitted that such plans made their work more difficult but their efforts have won high praises. "From the reception to the venues to transport, the Guangzhou games are the best ever. I do feel their hospitality," said Li Jieyun, a coach of the Chongqing delegation.

    "We feel like at home. The hosts are very warm," said Lobsang Tenzing, chief of the Tibetan delegation.

    Now Guangzhou has two bigger events ahead of next year's world table tennis championships and the Asian Games in 2010.

    "We are using the ethnic games as a testing ground for the 2010 Asian Games," said Guangzhou Mayor Zhang Guangning. "The ethnic games will help us better prepare for the Asian Games."

Editor: Bi Mingxin
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