- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 21, 2009

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA (AP) - Organizers are confident the global recession won’t prevent next year’s Asian Games in the Chinese city of Guangzhou from replicating the success of the Beijing Olympics.

Chinese media reported last month that a dearth of sponsorships from local exporters is hampering games preparations, including the construction of venues, although organizers hope foreign firms will pick up the slack.

Hua Xinfang, a senior official with the organizing committee, acknowledged the financial downturn poses “a new challenge, a new risk” for the Games, but stressed that organizers were working hard on obtaining sponsors and promotion.

“I understand everyone is very concerned about the current situation,” Hua told a news conference in Malaysia on Tuesday. “But I’m very happy to tell everyone that the preparation for the Asian Games is running very smoothly.”

Hua said organizers have so far attracted 24 sponsors, but declined to release details of the value.

The China Daily reported last month that sponsors had pledged about $292 million, or two-thirds of the expected amount.

A sharp drop in exports has battered companies operating in surrounding Guangdong province, a key area in China’s trade-led growth for the past three decades.

The 42-sport Asian Games in November 2010 _ featuring countries ranging from Saudi Arabia to Japan to Indonesia _ comes two years after the Beijing Games for which the central government lavished billions of dollars, much of that on infrastructure upgrades.

Hua said 50 competition venues and 20 training facilities will be needed for the Asian Games. Twelve would have to be built, while the others are existing facilities, she said.

“I believe that the Asian Games will be a success based on the experience we learned from the Beijing Olympics,” Hua said, adding that more than 10,000 participants from 45 countries are expected.

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On the Net:

Asian Games official site: https://www.gz2010.cn/en/

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