Cities of Hope

Highlights of the International Olympic Committee's Evaluation Commission report on the five cities vying for the 2008 Summer Games:

BEIJING

The Chinese aim to spend $14.3 billion in development costs related to the Games. As in Sydney, much of the sports action would be concentrated in a single site--what the Beijing bid calls an "Olympic Green" to be developed north of the city center. Beach volleyball has been proposed for Tiananmen Square, site of the 1989 massacre, which the commission termed "inappropriate." Bid officials indicate a plan to move beach volleyball to another site is already in the works. Beijing faces "a number of environmental pressures and issues, primarily air pollution." Also, weather during the Games--which would run from July 23-Aug. 10, 2008--would probably be hot. The average temperature at 3 p.m. at that time of year is 85 degrees.

Quote: "It is the commission's belief that a Beijing Games would leave a unique legacy to China and to sport, and the commission is confident that Beijing could organize an excellent Games."

PARIS

A plan to captivate the eyes: Beach volleyball at the Eiffel Tower. Certain equestrian events at the Esplanade des Invalides, along the River Seine. Fencing in a renovated Grand Palais, along the Champs Elysees. The Paris bid also proposes construction of an Olympic village in a neighborhood just south of the suburban Stade de France, site of the 1998 soccer World Cup--an area mostly occupied now by warehouses and old tires. The IOC requires about 40,000 hotel rooms for the Games; Parisian officials said they already have 140,000. An apparent conflict between French authorities and Olympic officials was "resolved" after agreement that Olympic doping rules, not French law, "would be the regulations which would apply" in 2008, according to the report. Apparently, however, the issue is not yet fully resolved to the satisfaction of the IOC, according to a number of Olympic officials.

Quote: "The high cost of hotels may be an issue."

TORONTO

The Toronto plan centers on a redevelopment scheme that would include 17 venues for 25 sports and the Olympic village along the city's waterfront. And all of it in a stretch only six kilometers, not even four miles, long. About 85% of the athletes would use the 17 venues. Boxing, canoeing, baseball, mountain biking and equestrian events, among others, would be elsewhere. In all, there would be 35 venues; 14 already exist, 12 require "some upgrading" and nine need to be built. The structure of the bid "contains a large element of private sector investment" and the commission confessed it is "uneasy" about the budget, nevertheless saying it is "achievable." Ontario's provincial government guaranteed to underwrite any operational shortfalls.

Quote: "There is major involvement of athletes in all phases of the organization and strong sport experience."

OSAKA

This bid envisions "major development" of three man-made islands in Osaka Bay, which would feature 13 sports venues, including the Olympic stadium, and the Olympic village. Capital investment, the report said, totals $28 billion, a "very high level of financial commitment."

Quote: "A special cool pavement surface, causing evaporation, will be used on the marathon course, possibly over its entire distance."

ISTANBUL

A special Turkish law allows the government to provide up to a five-fold increase in funding if Istanbul is awarded the Games. But the structure of the law, the committee said, "makes it difficult" to truly fix costs, noting "uncertainty and lack of detail" in regard to various items, especially infrastructure financing.

Quote: "There appears to be a limited understanding of the complex planning, construction, personnel and operational requirements of an Olympic Games."

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