Travel chaos as curtain falls

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 August, 2011, 12:00am


Shenzhen's airport and major subway stations closed for hours, banks and government offices suspended services and main roads in the city centre were cordoned off so VIPs could park their cars, forcing 60 bus routes to be diverted, as the 26th Summer World University Games closed at the Window of the World theme park last night.

Although 430,000 vehicles, mostly government-owned, were taken off the city's roads for nearly two weeks during the Games, taxi drivers complained that their business dropped by 20 to 30 per cent because many residents left the city to avoid inconvenience brought by the Games.

'It's ridiculous that [Shenzhen] party boss Wang Rong said the authorities tried their best to not disturb the public during the Games,' one taxi driver complained. 'The roads are just empty. Can you tell me the point of squandering money on the Games?'

As part of ramped-up security measures, Shenzhen Baoan International Airport was closed for four hours from 7pm yesterday and no trains stopped at the Window of the World subway station, a major interchange, that handles tens of thousands of passengers, for six hours.

More than 20,000 paramilitary police officers and another 20,000 police trainees were deployed throughout Shenzhen for the Games.

The 90-minute closing ceremony - featuring a special session acknowledging the contribution of tens of thousands of volunteers, and a 10-minute performance by Kazan, the Russian city that will host the next Universiade in 2013 - was scaled down after being moved from a 60,000-seat stadium to the 17-year-old theme park.

State Councillor Liu Yandong, the only woman on the Communist Party Politburo, was joined by officials from the International University Sports Federation and Hong Kong Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen at the ceremony.

The mainland's 505 athletes won 75 gold medals in 11 days of competition, breaking a record of 69 set by the Soviet Union in Moscow in 1973. Hong Kong's 102 athletes won three bronze medals. Athletes from Taiwan, competing as Chinese Taipei, were also among the 12,000 athletes and officials who attended the Games. They won seven gold medals.

The mainland-based China Times newspaper reported that Shenzhen spent more than 300 billion yuan (HK$366.26 billion) on the Games and infrastructure upgrades, and now has a huge deficit for the first time in two decades.

The newspaper cited Zhao Penglin, deputy secretary general of the Shenzhen government, as saying that five subway lines opened ahead of the Games cost about 100 billion yuan, and that 95 billion yuan would be spent on another eight subway lines after the Games. The report said 100 billion yuan was also spent on facelift projects, venues, environmental protection and security.

Shenzhen's finance committee told Xinhua that bills for infrastructure upgrades and development should not be included in the cost.

'We'll announce the Games' expenditure afterwards, giving the public a clear idea,' a spokesman said.