2008-07-10 02:20:06 GMT 2008-07-10 10:20:06 (Beijing Time) Xinhua English
By Sportswriter Liu Yang
BEIJING, July 10 (Xinhua) -- Over 2,000 "athletes" who poured into the Beijing Olympic Village in the latest test run of the athletes' compounds were asked to be picky and choosy.
Mock dwellers, however, gave thumbs-up to the facilities and were impressed with Chinese culture that permeates the village, said the village's general secretary Wu Jingmin.
Non-Chinese Olympic villagers, if they like, can pick up their Chinese names which use phonetic sounds for foreign names.
Sun Shishu, a Chinese language teacher working in the village, gave dozens of Chinese names in the first several hours of the trial run of the village.
"Let your surname be An, which means peace and safety. And your first name is Taifu, which means peace and happiness," Sun explained to Typhen Ann, an engineer from Britain, who works at the Main Cafeteria of the Olympic Village.
The village, which is the home to about 16,000 athletes and officials during the Games, sits on the north end of the axis of Beijing. Important buildings of all ages, including the Forbidden City and the Tiananmen Square, are aligned down this line.
Further north lies the Olympic Green. To the south is the National Stadium, popularly known as the "Bird Nest".
Deng Yaping, the village's vice mayor and four-time table tennis Olympic champion, believes the biggest attraction for the Olympic Village lies in its Chinese culture.
"For most of the (foreign) athletes I've talked with, they are amazed at Chinese culture. They want to try, to feel what is the real Chinese culture," Deng said.
"The village is a place where the athletes can unwind and get to know Chinese culture. We want to give them a full experience with Chinese culture."
The Olympic Village is divided into northern and southern halves. In the north, or the International Area, are the Head of Village Office, Flag Square, shopping areas, restaurants, entertainment and fitness facilities. In the south are athletes' apartments, whose main gates is decorated with a bronze art panel.
On the lawns around the apartments stand Chinese traditional lamp posts and dragon-patterned stone pillars, while water lilies float on the ponds.
The buildings in the International Area are temporary, except for a Chinese temple compound right next to the Flag Square, which is used as the Head of Village Office where Deng will work during the Games.
Chinese handicraft workroom sits in the International Area, painted with Chinese traditional colors of red, yellow and blue. About 20 handicraftsmen will show their talent in embroidery, woodcarving, painting and Beijing Opera mask making during the Games.
"Athletes can watch the artists finishing their works, and they can buy whatever they like," said Wang Jinqiang, the workroom manager.
The Beijing Olympic Village will officially open on July 27 and close on August 27. Also as the Paralympic Village, it will reopen on August 30 and close on September 20.