The 100-day countdown to the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou begins from Wednesday.
As the second city after Beijing to host an international sporting extravaganza, there are great expectations regarding its organization by the Guangzhou authorities.
Guangzhou has developed into one of the most modern and wealthiest of cities in the nation. Yet, economic strength is never the sole factor that will decide whether such a regional event can be successfully hosted or not.
And, for the innumerable visitors from abroad who will arrive to watch the games, the most appealing thing about the city should never be a landscape of high rises or modern shopping malls.
What they will look for most ardently will be a culture with indigenous flavor, such as a local opera, cuisine, architecture, handicrafts and a unique way of life that distinguishes it from other cities. The games then must serve as a timely reminder to the city authorities that protection of its traditional culture is key to retaining its soul.
Of course, the city has been doing what it can to restore some of the traditional heritage sites that were in danger of disappearing forever.
For instance, the traditional custom of eating snacks along with tea in the morning, the red ships that served as floating markets, and a performance stage on the Pearl River will likely be preserved for the international event.
In this respect, the Asian Games may have actually done some good in retaining some of the city's best traditions.