Beijing Olympic Village officially opens to athletes

2008-07-27 04:38:56 GMT       2008-07-27 12:38:56 (Beijing Time)       Xinhua English

Photo taken on July 27, 2008 shows the opening ceremony of the Olympic Village in Beijing, China. The Olympic Village was officially opened Sunday morning as dozens of Chinese athletes entered the compound. The village will provide accommodations for 16,000 athletes, coaches and their entourage coming for the Olympics. (Xinhua/Xu Yu)

Liu Qi(L), president of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad(BOCOG), and Chen Zhili, head of the Olympic Village, show the Key of the Olympic Village at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Village in Beijing, China, July 27, 2008. The Olympic Village was officially opened Sunday morning as dozens of Chinese athletes entered the compound. The village will provide accommodations for 16,000 athletes, coaches and their entourage coming for the Olympics. (Xinhua/Xu Jiaj

Photo taken on July 26, 2008 shows the flag-raising area of the Olympic Village in Northern Beijing, capital of China. (Xinhua Photo)

Photo taken on July 26, 2008 shows the residential building for China's Sports Delegation in the Olympic Village in Northern Beijing, capital of China. The village officially opens on Sunday and is now ready to receive 16,000 athletes and officials from over 200 countries and regions. (Xinhua Photo)

Photo taken on July 26, 2008 shows the interior environment of the Olympic Village in Northern Beijing, capital of China. (Xinhua Photo)

BEIJING, July 27 (Xinhua) -- The Olympic Village for the Beijing Games was officially opened Sunday morning as hundreds of Chinese athletes started checking into the 66-hectare compound.

Village mayor Chen Zhili announced its opening, which is about 20 minutes' walk northwest of the Games' two centerpiece venues - the Bird's Nest stadium and aquatic venue Water Cube.

"We now welcome athletes from around the world to come to the Games," said Chen.

"We will try to satisfy the needs of people from different cultural and religious backgrounds. We hope you will like the facilities and services, and achieve desirable results at the Games," she said.

The Chinese delegation was the first to check in by raising its national flag in the village. Athens Olympic 110 meters hurdles champion Liu Xiang and NBA star Yao Ming were among about a hundred athletes who were present at the ceremony.

Chinese basketball player Yao Ming poses during the opening ceremony of the Olympic Village in Beijing, China, July 27, 2008.

The village houses about 16,000 athletes, coaches and their entourage coming for the Olympics. It contains a main restaurant that can feed 5,000 people, teahouses, coffee shops, a barbershop, post office, shops, library, a fire station and a clinic.

Hundreds of home-style foods, along with customized beds, space for religious masses and entertainment facilities, are part of the efforts to provide comfortable stay for the athletes.

Other services like chances of learning the Chinese language and watching Chinese cultural performances are expected to add colors to their Olympic experience.

In line with IOC regulations, a religious center has been set up in the village. Worship rooms have been set up for major religions -- Christianity, Buddhism, Islamism, and Hinduism and Judaism.

The total of 42 apartment buildings in the village was built with energy saving technologies, water recycling system, environmentally friendly construction materials and solar-powered lighting. Some of the apartments have been sold out as residences.

Deng Yaping, a famed Olympic table tennis champion and vice mayor of the village, said on Friday that 46 countries and regions have had some representation in the village since its preliminary opening on July 20. The village is expected to be fully lodged.

It will close on Aug. 27 and reopen as the Paralympic Village on Aug. 30 until Sept. 20.

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