British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was the first foreigner who received permission to walk inside the unfinished Bird's Nest, the main sports stadium for Beijing Olympic Games in August. "This is going to be the greatest Olympic Games ever," Brown told reporters after his stadium tour.
The prime minister had good reason to be so keen on the Olympics-his country will host the next summer games in 2012. Based on this, China and Britain have been cooperating closely on Olympic-related issues, by offering exchanges in the fields of technology, sports and culture. They say the Olympics is the new tie that binds them together.
During his 20-minute visit to the National Stadium, Brown talked about China's energy-saving technology and emission-reduction efforts for the Olympics, as well as the country's schedule for business operations after the Olympic Games. The two countries reached a common understanding that they would strengthen their cooperation based on the opportunity of hosting these world sports fests.
"Sports, a transcending force that links people's hearts and souls, can serve to deepen friendship and cooperation between China and Britain," said Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao during his talks with Brown in Beijing on January 18.
As part of their cooperation on the Olympics, Wen and Brown agreed on a program to provide mutual mentoring and training to young athletes from their countries. China and Britain started their talks on the Olympic Games several years ago. Brown noted that the British structural engineering firm Arup helped to build the Bird's Nest, while architecture firm Foster & Partners designed the new Terminal 3 at the Beijing Capital Airport, which will handle the large volume of Olympic athletes and visitors.
Based on their successful cooperation on these construction projects, the two countries are considering extending their teamwork to the infrastructure construction of London Olympic Games in 2012 and inviting Chinese construction enterprises to participate, according to the Economic and Commercial Councilor's Office (ECCO) of the Chinese Embassy in Britain.
The two countries are also discussing reusing some of Beijing's Olympic equipment at the London Olympics. The ECCO suggested that the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad consider selling or renting some movable Olympic equipment, such as as electronic scoreboards and clocks at swimming venues and telecommunications devices, to London after 2008 to cut costs for both cities.
People-to-people communications are also important parts of bilateral cooperation at the Olympic Games. According to the ECCO, the security departments of the two countries' Olympic committees should improve their cooperation on antiterrorism training and share their experiences in this area. The British Embassy in China is arranging a seminar to cover the technical aspects of how best to respond to pubic health emergencies in the context of large public events such as the Olympic Games.
British volunteers for the 2012 Olympic Games also hope that they can work at the 2008 Olympic Games to get the experience they will need to prepare for their own Olympiad, the ECCO said. From November 28 to December 12, 2007, a delegation from the Renmin University of China went to Britain under the rubric of a "humanistic Olympics" to share their own volunteer experience with British volunteers who are confirmed to work at the Games in Beijing.
China and Britain also are jointly working on promoting Olympic tourism. As early as in 2006, the two countries agreed to cooperate in this area. Qingdao, a coastal city in Shandong Province that will host the sailing competition of the 2008 Olympic Games, signed agreements with Britain's two port cities of Southampton and Weymouth. These cities hope to strengthen their cooperation and share their experience on how to host sailing competitions and uses sailing facilities efficiently after the Games.
Olympic collaboration between Beijing and London is paying off for some private companies as well. Ben Verwaayen, Chief Executive Officer of British telecommunica-tions giant BT Group plc, announced last September in China that his company would establish two new divisions to provide telecom services for the 2008 Olympic Games.