Dear Friends & Family,
Hi, it is now my 4th day in the OV, with the opening night tomorrow evening and the first day of competing on Sat. That day we will have two athletes, their sports, our flyweight boxer (ranked 8th in the world) and a lady swimmer. Hope that get some good TV time.
At 4pm on Sat 9th, we are scheduled to have our official welcome to the Beijing Olympics, the delegation, plus Sri Lanka's National President, the Ambassador to China etc will present ourselves to the welcome arena, for a welcome speech by the Chinese Mayor of the Olympic Village, the National Anthem will be played and some school children will welcome us with songs and music.
Ok, so what about yesterday, when I ran out of time to write. Well as you guessed a busy day. Morning was spent preparing things for the evening when the Sri Lankan National President would make a special visit to the OV, meet the OV Mayor, and have a long private chat with the delegation in our village accommodation.
Of course being a head of State, he does not arrive alone on a push bike, as you would expect, the entourage was bigger that we is allowed in for any country. Each NOC (National Olympic Committee) is allow 8 persons for a protocol visit, then we used our 6 per day guest passes and got close.
To make things even more stressful, his plane was due to land in Beijing at 13:20pm, but was 40 minutes late, and he was due in the village at 18:30pm.... Also on the same plane was the NOC President and our Secretary General, and the Government Sec. for Sport.. While the Embassy and local security folk swung into operation for the head of state, we had to ensure our two top NOC officials and the government minister had a car each and as they would all stay in different Hotels... we needed to make sure the driver knew where to take them.....
You know, the Olympic is much easier when you can sit back, turn on the TV and relax..... but this is really a wonderful experience. Sorry, I forgot, we also had our delegations Admin official on the same plane. He already had a pre-validated Olympic ID card, but guess what, as some 30% are, there was a problem. Guess who got left to sort it out, while out team chief got ready for the heavy guns to arrive. But, that's why I got offered this job, as they say in the USA " I have been there, and done that" so it was quite easy, 30 minutes later we were good to go.
OK, so we got through validation and registration, now we had to get to our village building.... guess what, the Olympic sponsor UPS, had a SUV waiting, they put the luggage in the back and we got UPS'ed to our quarters.... another first.
At 6:30pm on the dot, the National President arrived in a fleet of cars, out jumps the Chinese security guys, check all around, then allow the guest of honor to step out. The usual welcome, hand shakes, flowers etc. and then we were allowed to tag along at the rear.
After the visit to to the OV Mayor, the President motorcade lined up, and we were ushered in the passenger van at the rear, due to the one way system in the OV, it was a long route for a short journey, but the international athletes were amused and took photo's of us..... I almost felt famous... he, he.
The President came with his wife and two sons, and took the time (some 45 minutes) to meet with just 8 athletes and a few coaches, very few would offer that much time, as several different countries athletes who told us, "our President would never do that"
OK, I must start to get ready for this evening's Embassy Dinner, I will try to report on it tomorrow.
Take care, bless you for reading this far, of yes, I got asked about the air quality, it's not bad, certainly lots better than when I was in the city before...
The photos are from Peace Square (One world, one dream) with the two volunteers that look after our NOC President & Sec. General, and in a red shirt in front of the huge FuWa....... all in the OV.