•     RIO DE JANEIRO, Oct. 26 (Xinhua) -- Pedro Solberg and Harley beat current Olympic champions Ricardo and Emanuel 2-1 in the Maceio stage of the Brazilian Circuit of beach volleyball on Sunday.

        Solberg and Harley beat Ricardo and Emanuel 18-15, 14-18 and 15-11, after having lost to Ricardo and Emanuel four times in a row.

        "We have worked hard to beat them throughout the year. However, we were never quite able to put everything together. Finally, we were able to piece everything together today. It is great to be able to finish the year on a high note. Now, we will focus on the next stage of the World Circuit in Bahrain," said Pedro.

  •     CHANGCHUN, Northeast China, Oct. 27 (Xinhua) -- As the 2008 Chinese Invitational Games for special Olympic sports concluded in the northeastern Chinese city of Changchun on Sunday, China determines to raise the number of athletes with intellectual disabilities to 1 million by 2010.

        The Changchun Games featured speed skating, figure skating, floor hockey, skiing and snow shoeing.

        Wang Zhijun, chairman of Special Olympics China (SOC), said that the Special Olympics could improve the athlete's physical function and IQ, and help them join in social activities and live a happier life.

        Fan Hong, another leading official with SOC, told Xinhua that in recent years China has made great efforts to expand the number of participants in the Special Olympics.

        According to Fan, China's special Olympic history could date back to the 1960s. In 1985, China started to popularize the Special Olympics and has taken part in both summer and winter Special Olympics since 1987.

        "Up to now, China has held four countrywide Special Olympic Games and there are more than 730,000 active athletes with intellectual disabilities," Fan said.

  •     GENEVA, Oct. 22 (Xinhua) -- The International Olympic Committee(IOC) announced on Tuesday an agreement with SKY Italia for the broadcast rights within Italy for the 2014 Winter Games and 2016 Summer Games.

        SKY Italia will also be the IOC's broadcast partner for the Vancouver 2010 and London 2012 Olympic Games.

        SKY Italia, Italy's leading digital satellite television network, acquired the rights across all broadcast platforms, including free-to-air television, subscription television, internet and mobile phone.

        SKY Italia will be responsible for ensuring that the broadest possible audience is able to access the Olympic Games across all of these platforms, including a guaranteed continuation of free-to-air television coverage.

        "Our aim is to ensure that as many people as possible are able to enjoy the sporting action on all broadcast platforms and we look forward to working closely with SKY Italia to make this possible across Italy for the next four editions of the Olympic Games", said the IOC president Jacques Rogge.

        IOC Vice-President Thomas Bach was satisfied with the agreement.

        "Sports fans in Italy will be able to enjoy cutting-edge Olympic coverage across a variety of platforms, including satellite, free-to-air television and digital platforms." he said.

        Andrea Zappia, the Head of SKY Italia Sport and Vice-President of SKY Italia, said, "We will guarantee our subscribers unprecedented coverage, offering live broadcasting of all the events with Italian athletes, as well as the opportunity to watch all events."

  • China's relations with the West have been greatly improved thanks to the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics, China's Ambassador to the United Kingdom Fu Ying said in London on Wednesday.

    Speaking at a reception to mark the end of the Games, Fu said that after seeing a change in the attitudes of some Western journalists, she was confident "China's relations with the world, especially with the West, have made a large step forward".

    Fu said in June she invited several British journalists to lunch in Beijing and many of them had complaints regarding the Olympic Games.

    "But toward the end of the Olympics, I found they were much more relaxed, much more confident of Beijing's success, and they were able to transfer that message to the world."

    The ambassador, who accompanied British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to Beijing for the Games, said the Olympics helped Chinese people to better understand the world, while visiting journalists learned about China.

    "The Chinese public has now seen the world's many and diverse cultures, and has engaged with Westerners at a human level," she said.

    "The 30,000 journalists who covered the Games have also taken China to the world.

    "I received lots of letters from the British public after I came back (from Beijing). I sometimes read them late into the night and am always moved by their warmth toward the Beijing Games," she said.

    When asked how the Olympic venues might be used in the future, Fu joked that people never need worry about filling empty spaces in China, with its population of 1.3 billion.

    "The Water Cube will become an aquatic park while the Bird's Nest will probably become the home ground for the Beijing Guoan football team," she said.

    Lord Moynihan, chairman of the British Olympic Association, and Simon Clegg, its chief executive, expressed their gratitude to Beijing.

    "We owe a huge debt of thanks to the BOCOG and to all those involved in organizing the Games," Moynihan said.

    "The facilities were second to none, the preparations were first class, and above all, the lesson we learned for 2012, is to put athletes first.

    "Thank you for giving that experience to the British athletes and to the athletes of the world," he said.

    "For us in London, we have a great amount to learn and we learned it from you."

    Clegg said: "Beijing was an incredible experience.

    "But this chapter of the Olympic movement now closes and we move on to London.

    "I have no doubt the Olympic movement is a richer and a stronger place as a result to the Games of Beijing in 2008." he said.

  • Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant has opted against surgery on his little finger in order to take part in pre-season training.


    Kobe Bryant of the U.S. dunks the ball during Men's Gold Medal Game- Game 76 between Spain and the United States of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games basketball event at Olympic Basketball Gymnasium in Beijing, China, Aug. 24, 2008. [Xinhua]

    Bryant picked up the injury in February and decided not to undergo surgery in order to finish the NBA season and to go to the Olympics with the US team.

    After winning a gold medal in Beijing it was expected that the NBA's Most Valuable Player would deal with the injury before the start of the new season.

    "I have always felt that I can still focus and play at a high level even through various injuries," Bryant told his own website (http://wwww.kb24.com) yesterday.

    "That's really just part of the game. When the doctors told me recovery from a procedure could be 12 weeks, I just decided now was not the time to have surgery.

    "What it really came down to for me is that I just didn't want to miss any time 'punching the clock' for the Lakers, given all we are trying to accomplish as a team this NBA season.

    "I am just really excited and looking forward to being there with the guys when camp opens in a few weeks. That is a real bonding process and if I can avoid being on the sidelines for that, God willing, I will," Bryant said.


  • Chinese diver Zhou Luxin, silver medalist of Men's 10m Platform diving of the Beijing Olympic Games, presents a bunch of flowers to his teacher at Huanchengxilu Primary School in Wuhu City, east China's Anhui Province, Sept. 8, 2008. As the Chinese Teacher's day approaches, Zhou Luxin went to the school where he graduated to visit his teachers.


    Chinese diver Zhou Luxin, silver medalist of Men's 10m Platform diving of the Beijing Olympic Games, attends a class at Huanchengxilu Primary School in Wuhu City, east China's Anhui Province, Sept. 8, 2008. As the Chinese Teacher's day approaches, Zhou Luxin went to the school where he graduated to visit his teachers.


    Chinese diver Zhou Luxin, silver medalist of Men's 10m Platform diving of the Beijing Olympic Games, signs for the students at Huanchengxilu Primary School in Wuhu City, east China's Anhui Province, Sept. 8, 2008. As the Chinese Teacher's day approaches, Zhou Luxin went to the school where he graduated to visit his teachers.
  • BEIJING - The organizers of the Beijing Paralympics would set a good model for future hosts, the president of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) said here on Wednesday.

    The Paralympics, the world's premier sporting event for elite disabled athletes, will open in Beijing on Saturday, nearly two weeks after the Chinese capital successfully hosting the Olympic Games.

    Philip Craven, who has been in Beijing over the past five weeks, said he was impressed by the preparation work done by the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2008 Olympic Games (BOCOG) when addressing a meeting of IPC executive board.

    "I would like to, on behalf of the whole Paralympic family, thank BOCOG and China for the incredible transition that have taken place here in Beijing and also in (co-host city) Qingdao," said the IPC chief.

    "No doubt, we have seen equal splendor here as you promised to us. We've seen it and we're feeling it," he added.

    In line with China's motto for the Paralympics, comparing it with the Olympics, - "Two Games with Equal Splendor", the Chinese government has endeavored to make Beijing and co-host cities of Qingdao and Hong Kong as accessible as possible for Pralympians and spectators as well, for example, setting up the country's first fleet of easy-access taxis and making tourist spots such as the Great Wall accessible to wheelchairs.

    Craven, who himself is wheelchair bound, said he was confident that the Beijing Paralympics would be a complete success and "highly copyable for the future".

    "We all expect that this games will open a new chapter in the history and progression of the Paralympic Movement," he said.

    More than 4,000 athletes from 148 countries and regions will compete in 20 sports at the Beijing Paralympics, which will run from September 6 to17.

     

  • Last Sunday night at the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, among all the celebrations, Yao Ming was seen hugging a female athlete.


    Yao Ming of China gives Basketball player Lauren Jackson of Australia a hug during the Closing Ceremony for the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the National Stadium.


    I blurted out: "China's online sleuths are going to flush out the identity of this woman, and she's going to create a big wave in China."

    A big-time blogger happened to be near me, and he posted my remarks in his blog. Now, we all know that woman was Lauren Jackson, an Australian basketball player who is currently with the Seattle Storm of the WNBA and the Australian National Team, The Opals.

    I don't know why I said what I said, but I guess I had a hunch about this kind of thing - the misinterpretation of cultural incidents. What appeared to be a token of friendliness between two acquaintances or friends has triggered a spate of tall tales.

    Soon after the embrace in the Bird's Nest, reports emerged claiming that Lauren Jackson, or LJ, is much more than a friend of Yao's. Obviously she initiated the hug, and Yao reciprocated with slight hesitation. From this, the legion of Chinese Sherlock Holmes have concluded that LJ used to have a fling with Yao, but Yao, faithful to his wife, Ye Li, turned her down.

    I don't know how much truth there is in that. But it doesn't seem to be corroborated by the people involved. That, however, doesn't prevent the hug from being the runaway fun story from an otherwise predictable sporting event.

    If you don't believe what I've said, here's the final proof - a rewritten lyric set to the tune of the Beijing Olympics theme song:

    Yao Ming: (helplessly) Me and Li / Heart to heart / Have got marriage license / Stop dreaming / Don't carry on / For I'll be faithful. / Go away, Lauren / Let go of my hand / You and me / Are impossible / Go find someone else.

    LJ: (joyfully) Yao near me / And hugged me / Won't part with me. / Winds may blow / Blow them apart / And he'll hug me alone. / Come on, Big Yao / Give me your hand.

    Chorus: Yao near me / And hugged me / Dazed over me / You love me / And hugged me / Now in dream of me.


    An audio version is floating in cyberspace, with uncanny mimicry of the original singers Liu Huan and Sarah Brightman.


    Basketball player Lauren Jackson of Australia talks with Yao Ming of China during the Closing Ceremony for the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the National Stadium.

    You may laugh at such a childish act of mischievousness. But actually it's not that simple. Chinese etiquette does not include hugging in public, and even though we've seen it countless times in movies most of us do not know when it is appropriate to hug, especially a non-family member of the opposite sex.

    Two decades ago, I was seeing off a group of visitors at the airport after escorting them for weeks on a tour across China. The women hugged me one by one, or rather, the first woman hugged me, and then I started hugging the others. It happened that the last person in the group was an old gentleman. As soon as I opened my arms, one of the women hinted that I stop. I instantly realized what she meant, but I did not understand. I've seen movies from Eastern Europe in which adult men hugged each other. The nuances were just too complicated for a kid fresh out of college.

    Today, hugging is quite common in China, especially among the young, but old mindsets die hard. Even if you conduct yourself properly, as Yao Ming and LJ did, people will misunderstand you, deliberately or not, because the same act has different connotations in different cultures.

    Wait for a Yao-Ye-LJ melodrama like a soap opera fit for primetime. What netizens can cook up will be infinitely more colorful than anything on TV.


    Yao Ming of China gives Basketball player Lauren Jackson of Australia a hug in the Beijing National Stadium during the Closing Ceremony for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.


    Basketball players Lauren Jackson of Australia and Yao Ming of China speak in the Beijing National Stadium during the Closing Ceremony for the 2008 Beijing Olympics


    Basketball player Lauren Jackson of Australia is pictured during the Closing Ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. 


  • Gold medalist divers Guo Jingjing (2nd L), Wu Minxia (2nd R) and Qin Kai co-sing a song with Hong Kong pop singer Joey Yung in Hong Kong on August 30, 2008. China's Olympic gold medallists arrived in Hong Kong on Friday, kicking off their three-day visit to the city.


    Olympic gymnastic champions Yang Yilin(L) performs on the balance beam with her teammate Cheng Fei in Hong Kong, August 30, 2008. China's Olympic gold medallists arrived in Hong Kong Friday, kicking off their three-day visit to the city


    Olympic table tennis gold winner Zhang Yining shakes hands with a local child on Saturday. China's Olympic gold medallists arrived in Hong Kong on Friday, kicking off their three-day visit to the city.


    Chinese Olympic championship gymnasts Xiao Qin(L) and Yang Wei perform on the pommel horse in a gym of Hong Kong Saturday during their three-day visit to the city.


    Olympic badminton champion Lin Dan shows his skill during an exhibition match in Hong Kong, August 30, 2008. China's Olympic gold medallists arrived in Hong Kong on Friday, kicking off their three-day visit to the city.


    Olympic fencing champion Zhong Man gives instructions to a local resident in Hong Kong, August 30, 2008. China's Olympic gold medallists arrived in Hong Kong on Friday, kicking off their three-day visit to the city.


    Olympic badminton champion Zhang Ning acknowledges the local spectators in Hong Kong, August 30, 2008. China's Olympic gold medallists arrived in Hong Kong on Friday, kicking off their three-day visit to the city.


    Olympic table tennis gold medallist Ma Lin gives instructions to a local child in Hong Kong, August 30, 2008. China's Olympic gold medallists arrived in Hong Kong on Friday, kicking off their three-day visit to the city.

  • China's gold medal-winning divers (L-R) Huo Liang, Wang Xin, and Chen Ruolin perform during a demonstration in Hong Kong, August 30, 2008. Chinese gold medallists are visiting Hong Kong for three days to take part in exhibition matches, meet local people and visit Disneyland.


    China's gold medal-winning divers divers Lin Yue (R) and Huo Liang practise a demonstration in Hong Kong, August 30, 2008. Chinese gold medallists are visiting Hong Kong for three days to take part in exhibition matches, meet local people and visit Disneyland.


    China's gold medal-winning diver Guo Jingjing reacts during a demonstration in Hong Kong August 30, 2008. Chinese gold medallists are visiting Hong Kong for three days to take part in exhibition matches, meet local people and visit Disneyland.


    China's gold medal-winning diver Guo Jingjing smiles during a demonstration in Hong Kong, August 30, 2008. Chinese gold medallists are visiting Hong Kong for three days to take part in exhibition matches, meet local people and visit Disneyland.