July 13th of 2001 was a historical day, when the 112th plenum of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) held in Moscow voted for Beijing, a city with a 3,000-year history, to host the 2008 Olympic Games. On the same night, Chinese people in all corners of the world were thrilled at the news. In Beijing, the Tiananmen Square and Chang¡¯an Avenue were crowded with excited Chinese people, as were the main streets in other cities in China. It was a sleepless night for the whole nation.
After China resumed its legitimate membership on the IOC in 1979 and He Zhenliang was elected a member of the IOC in 1981, China¡¯s relationship with the Olympic movement and its cooperation with the IOC stepped onto a new historical stage. From then on, the Chinese sports community has actively supported the popularization and promotion of the Olympics.
Following the Olympic principle of extensiveness, and to enable the Chinese people ¡ª one-fifth of the world population ¡ª to share the honor and joy of hosting the Olympics, Beijing bid to host the 2000 Olympics. Its bid failed narrowly by two votes in 1993. In 1999, Beijing submitted an application to the IOC to host the Olympic Games in 2008. Compared with the last time, Beijing¡¯s annual economic growth in the last eight years had exceeded eight percent, and the annual growth of revenue in the last five years had exceeded 20 percent. Beijing¡¯s economic strength had been built up. In addition, China¡¯s capital had put forward three themes for the 2008 Games ¡ª ¡°Humanistic Olympics, Green Olympics and Sci-Tech Olympics,¡± emphasizing taking the people as the foundation and representing their personalities, promoting cultural exchanges between the East and the West, and boosting the spread of the Olympic spirit. Beijing hoped to host the 2008 Games in order to enhance the harmony between man and the environment. To this end, it planned to apply modern digital technology, network-broadband technology, environmental technology, and energy- and water-saving technology in the construction of stadiums, gymnasiums and the Olympic Village, and the installation of telecommunications and transportation facilities. Beijing¡¯s bid was backed up by the whole nation. The common people with different backgrounds, occupations and of different ages expressed their support for Beijing¡¯s bid in various ways.
Another important reason that Beijing won the bid was its promise to improve the environment. In the spring of 1993, the IOC inspectors weren¡¯t satisfied with Beijing¡¯s environment. In February 2001, when they came to the city again, the evaluation group of the IOC saw a totally different Beijing. In that year, although there were more days of sandstorms, Beijing¡¯s air quality had been greatly improved, and the days when the air quality reached Grade III and above exceeded 85 percent of the year¡¯s total. Large-scale afforestation had added 7,000 ha of greenbelts to Beijing, and 80 percent of construction of green central reserves had been finished. The tree coverage of the city had reached 43 percent. An additional 2,556 ha in the city proper had been greened.
Now the Organization Committee for the Beijing 2008 Olympics has been set up and started to work. The first 89 key infrastructure construction projects invested by the municipal government were started at the end of 2001, which included such aspects as airport, road transportation, light railway and subway, renovation of gas facilities, city water supply, electric power equipment, sewage treatment, river dredging and telecommunications. The 2008 Olympic Science and Technology Action Plan was launched jointly by nine departments, such as the Ministry of Science and Technology, State Physical Culture Administration and Chinese Academy of Sciences. The Plan collects scientific and technological innovation achievements from around the country and even the world, aiming to make use of first-grade technological achievements in the world in the Olympics. The first batch of Olympic science and technology projects covers various aspects of the 2008 Olympics, while focusing on solving key and difficult problems in hosting the Olympics.