Special report: 2008 Olympic Games
by Chang Ailing
BEIJING, July 25 (Xinhua) -- When technician Mobuyuki Oguma with Kyodo News
Service arrived at the lobby of the Olympic media village, he was greeted by a
line of smiling volunteers. Ten minutes later, he was shown into his apartment
to find a number of gifts ranging from shampoo to a toy panda.
Oguma was among the dozens of media staff who checked in on Friday when the
Beijing Olympic media village, the largest one ever in the Olympic history,
opened on Friday.
"Transportation here must be very convenient, as the village is very close
to the Main Press Center (MPC)," said Oguma, whose apartment in Huiyuan is two
kilometers away form the MPC and IBC.
The other media village, the North Star, is 10 minutes away by bus. The two
residential compounds jointly offer about 7,000 rooms to accredited media.
As thousands of journalists pouring into Beijing, the host is making every
effort to make the often critical group satisfied and amused.
From multilingual language volunteers, to bank, post office, laundry
service, clinic, fitness center, shops and huge cafeteria serving a variety of
food, all life necessities seem to have been taken into consideration.
"Good to me," Oguma said, when he found the newly renovated fitness center
with Italy imported running machines and swimming pool was at the first floor of
his apartment building.
"For people like me who need to stay in the MPC for the whole day, it's
good to take some exercises after work," he said.
Zhao Huizhi, director of the Huiyuan media village, said painstaking
efforts have been made to cater to the needs of journalists.
"We spent eight months renovating the buildings," she said. The Huiyuan
compound was once used as an athletes village for the Asian Games in 1990. "Many
facilities were especially set up for journalists, like a media room with
wireless network and newsstand."
Located at the center area in Huiyuan, a newsstand of 10 square meters
sells about 20 foreign newspapers and magazines, some of which are available in
Beijing for the first time.
"We have newspapers of many countries. The United States, Britain, France,
Germany, Italy, Republic of Korea, Japan..." a shop assistant said.
"Newspapers of Asian countries, like South Korea and Japan, arrived with no
delays. But those from the United States or Europe usually arrived a little bit
later due to time difference and transportation," she said.
To provide more fun, the Huiyuan village even opened a Chinese tea house.
The old-timey tea house has 100 private rooms with wireless network service and
English speaking waitresses.
"We hope the tea house can provide foreign journalists a chanceto taste
Chinese culture and a place to have fun with friends after work," Zhao said.
Zhao said her team conducted "head-to-toe" checks several times before
journalists moved in. "From water tap, switch to the handrail, we try to make
sure that nothing goes wrong."
The director said that what worried her most was whether they could keep
the village "quiet" for journalists. "Covering Olympics is a very demanding job
and journalists need a quiet environment to have good rest."
Zhao said the Huiyuan village has about 2,200 staff and volunteers working
on shift. Some staff are from five-star hotels.
"We've asked our staff to keep quiet as much as possible. Cafeterias,
corridors, lifts and public lavatories for volunteers and journalists are
"Supply vehicles are asked to enter the village only at the time when most
journalists are out for work," she said.
"With all our efforts, we hope journalists could have fun and feel at home
here," Zhao said.
The media compounds -- Huiyuan and the North Star -- will become
residential buildings after the Games, according to the Beijing Organizing
Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG).