Qingdao City to Host 2008 Olympic Sailing Events
Celebrating a landmark 25 years of sister province relations last year, Shandong Province in China and Yamaguchi Prefecture will enter their 26th year of relations this year. Shandong Province will play a vital role in the upcoming 2008 Beijing Olympics by hosting the 29th Olympic sailing events in Qingdao city. Shandong Province boasts an impressive 3,200 km-long coast line which accounts for one sixth of China’s coastline, making it a natural haven for water sports, including sailing. Its name in Chinese characters, 青島, means green or lush island and was recently voted as the 9th most liveable city in China by China Daily.
Located in the southeast of Shandong province, Qingdao is a beautiful seaside city with a rich history of internationalization. In 1897 the city was ceded to Germany and was used extensively as a strategic port. The city’s first streets and institutions were built by the Germans and gives the city a distinct charm, blending elements of Western architecture into the city’s landscape and can still be enjoyed by tourists today. Among the first institutions built was the now-famous Tsingtao Brewery, whose beer is exported to over 50 countries worldwide and is the number one branded consumer product exported from China. Qingdao is also the sister city of Shimonoseki city in Yamaguchi Prefecture and is connected by a ferry known as the Orient Ferry.
Qingdao city won the right to host the sailing events on July 13, 2001 and ever since, the city’s citizens and officials have full heartedly embarked on the task of making the 2008 Olympic sailing events a memorable and successful affair. As the host for the 29th Olympic sailing events, Qingdao has constructed a sailing center on Fushan Bay which covers 45 hectares, including seven facilities such as a media center, reception area and logistic facilities to oversee all aspects of the events. It has been praised as the best sailing facility in Asia. The sailing center broke ground in May of 2004 and during the 2008 Games, it will hold eleven sailing event in nine categories, handing out a total of 11 gold medals. The sailing center and marina will be used as leisure and sports center for citizens once the Olympics conclude, and many steps have been taken to ensure that the facilities will be utilized effectively even after the international furor of hosting the events subsides.
In order to build up its image as an internationally recognizable “sailing city,” Qingdao has taken a number of steps to educate its citizens on the sport, especially the youth. The city invested in a number of sail boats and sponsored sailing camps with instructors from all around the world to further spread knowledge on the sport. Qingdao’s effort to educate the province on the nautical sport reaches beyond the province to the rest of China. A large sail boat by the name of “Qingdao” sails the southeastern coastline of China with this mission. Once the Olympics are over, Qingdao is eyeing to host the America Cup sailing event—in order to ensure that their status as a “sailing city” does not end with its status as host of the 2008 Olympic sailing events.