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Remarks at Reception to Celebrate the Closing of Beijing Olympics and Paralympics
2008/10/14

Lords,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you very much for coming. Let me first of all thank Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park for initiating and sponsoring this reception. I wish to thank all of you for sharing this moment with us.

The Beijing Olympics and Paralympics have attracted the largest number of athletes, visitors, journalists, spectators and volunteers.

There were many unforgettable names, stories and images. It is impossible to recount them all. The courage, perseverance and sportsmanship of athletes, the warmth and hospitality of the people inspired and moved all of us.

I received many letters from the British public expressing their thanks and appreciation for the Games. I am glad some of them are with us tonight. A couple took a long journey from as far as Liverpool.

A question that many are reflecting on is what the Olympics brought to China and its people.

The Olympics has been an educational process on the environment for the Chinese people. There is still an ongoing debate in Beijing about whether temporary environmental measures, such as driving on alternative days, should be maintained. New measures, such as one day off the road for all government owned vehicles, are being taken.

The Olympics has also changed the way China sees the world and vice versa. The Olympics brought the world to China and opened up China to the world.

The Chinese people saw the diversity of the world and engaged with Westerners on the human level. The games have brought them closer together and marked a big step forward in the mutual understanding between China and West.

The Paralympics, which attracted huge attention and enthusiasm from the Chinese audience, was a moving celebration of the courage and dignity of the 83 million people with disabilities in China and those across the world.

The biggest Olympic legacy for China, in my view, was sports. For 16 days, half a million watched in venues every day and a hundred million enjoyed the games on TV.

With the closing of the Paralympics, the venues will soon be open to the public. China’s sports facilities are still far from meeting the need. The per capita sports area in Beijing was less than 3 square meters. That in Japan is 19 square meters.

According to the report, the Bird’s Nest will become the home ground of Guoan football club in Beijing. Part of the Water Cubic will become an aquatic park and construction will start at the end of this year.

China and Britain have a unique Olympic connection. I witnessed the flag hand-over from Beijing to London. The Beijing Olympics has seen the best ever performances for athletes of both our countries.

The wonderful sports and festivities have drawn to a close. And we are already looking forward to London 2012. Britain made its name at the games, both for your athletes, who were truly stunning--I am glad we have several British athletes and coaches here with us--and for London’s 8 minutes. They were seen as distinctively British by many Chinese internet users. Already Britain has started a four-year cultural Olympiad earlier this month that consisted of Olympic activities during the weekend. We have no doubt in our mind that London will do well in 2012

Chinese athletes have made the nation proud in the games. But this is no sense of complacency. In per capita terms, the UK has won ten times as many medals as China and 7 times as many gold medals. China still has a long way to go in sports like track and fields, ball games, cycling. And in per capita terms, Britain has won ten times as many medals and 7 times as many gold medals as China.

China and the UK have much to share in the fields of Olympics. During Prime Minister Brown’s recent visit in Beijing, the two sports authorities reached an agreement for sports cooperation.

China will help the UK in Ping Pong, badminton, diving and gymnastics, while the UK will help China in rowing, sailing, and cycling. I hope by working together we will take more gold medals from America and Russia in 2012.

Once again, thank you for coming to this reception and enjoy your evening.

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