Chicago seeks to learn Olympic lessons from Beijing

August 3, 2008 9:09:31 PM PDT
Mayor Daley leaves for Beijing and the 2008 Summer Olympic Games Monday.ABC7 Chicago's Ben Bradley is the first local television reporter in China to cover the mayor's trip and more. He takes a look at what Chicago can learn from the Chinese as the Windy City tries to go for the 2016 Games.

Beijing's Tiananmen Square has come to symbolize much of China's past. In the coming weeks, the country hopes to make an important step toward its future.

An image artist Zhao Xue Ming paints has not changed much in decades, but the country it represents is in the midst of a massive transformation. The Olympics are merely the "coming out" party.

"He thinks it's a kind of international communication, a big chance for Chinese people to show how open we are," a translator for the artist said.

For the first time, sunlight replaced the smog Sunday that normally blankets the city and threatened the health of Olympic athletes. The sky was a brilliant blue, and it got that way thanks to Communist Red. The government simply ordered the biggest polluting factories to close and banned 1.5 million cars from city streets. That's the equivalent of telling nearly half the residents of the city of Chicago they can't drive.

"[It's a sign of] the importance the Chinese place on these Games coming off perfectly and why there going to these lengths to make it happen," said Steve Roush, USOC Chief of Sport Performance.

This is Steve Roush's 22nd trip to Beijing since 2001. His job as the U.S Olympic Committee's Chief of Sport Performance is to make sure every American athlete has the equipment and facilities they need to perform.

Team USA will be training in a brand new section of a local university. It's one of dozens of new venues, including the iconic "Birds' Nest" stadium and "Water Cube" aquatics facility the Chinese government built for the Games.

When asked if he thought Olympic candidate cities like Chicago had any idea what they're getting into, Roush said, "I think the grass is very green on that side right now, but part of the bid city process is to let them see all that's expected of them."

"We know it's very complex and large. It's a complex process. So, were prepared for that, but I'm sure we'll be shocked by the scale of it," said Chicago 2016 Chairman Patrick Ryan.

Ryan is in Beijing anxious to see for himself what it takes to host the Games, and he's happy to have the help of 600 American athletes acting as ambassadors of the American bid.

"First hand, I know what a great city Chicago is. So, I'll try my best to promote it as much as possible because I think the Olympic Games being there would be an awesome Olympic Games for sure!" said Bloomington, Ill. Athlete Ogonna Nnamani.

Ben Bradley: "Have the Chinese put the bar pretty high?"

Roush: "I wouldn't want to follow them. So London, good luck!"

For all the hype and attention of the Olympic Games, Beijing feels surprisingly quiet. There are fewer international visitors this summer than during the same period last year. It's part of an organized effort by the government to control not only the size of the crowds but also who's in them.


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