Guangzhou 'won't be locked down for Games'

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 December, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 December, 2009, 12:00am

Guangzhou would not be subjected to a Beijing Olympics-style security lockdown during next year's Asian Games, government sports officials pledged yesterday.

The Guangzhou 16th Asian Games Organising Committee assured travellers planning to visit the trading hub that it would be business as usual in the run-up to and during the November 12-27 event.

Officials also sought to allay concerns among the city's ethnic communities and migrant workers, who fear they will be ordered off the streets or out of the city in severe moves similar to those witnessed during last year's Beijing Olympics.

'There will be no visa restrictions, and we will not be targeting ethnic minorities such as Uygurs, or Africans, living and working in the city. They contribute much to our society. There will be no crackdowns,' organising committee deputy chief Gu Shiyang said last night.

'There is no question of travel restrictions. It will be business as usual.

'Of course, security has to be tightened, given the size of the event. But we will not in any way restrict movement of people wanting to come here or who already live here. Guangzhou is a tolerant, multicultural city, and we welcome everyone to visit during the Games.'

The Games would help the economic and social development of the city, he said, and speed up the improvement of urban infrastructure.

'We will have 222 kilometres of subway lines up and running by the time the Games open,' Gu said.

He declined to say whether weather manipulation such as cloud seeding would be deployed to ensure perfect conditions, but did say steps would be taken to clean up the skies.

'We have moved several factories out of the city and made others cleaner in recent years,' Gu said. 'We are making other improvements to the environment and air quality.'

State media have reported that nearly 1 billion yuan (HK$1.13 billion) will be spent on security.

Internet access is likely to be restricted but international media organisations have been told 'relevant internet sites' will remain open.