China will today set up the organising committee for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing with a lavish ceremony at the Great Hall of the People, opening the race for hundreds of millions of US dollars in commercial sponsorships. The organising committee would continue to work at the offices of the bid committee at the Xinqiao Hotel until the first half of next year, when it would move to new premises, with its staff increasing from 40 to 200 by June next year, the Beijing Youth Daily reported yesterday. To be hired, applicants for the jobs must have a good standard of English and pass an examination. The committee will add two new departments - one to raise money from government and commercial sources, and one to stop corruption and malpractice within the committee. As the games approach, the committee will hire up to 5,000 people. With the establishment of the committee, the race to become sponsors begins in earnest. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has major sponsors in 11 industries, including Coca-Cola, IBM, Kodak, McDonald's, Panasonic, Samsung, UPS and Visa; but some industries are not covered, such as cars, offering a good commercial opportunity. These major sponsors have paid US$50 million (HK$390 million) to US$60 million to give them exclusive worldwide rights to advertise their products with the Olympic symbol, but 'ambush marketing' has often occurred in the past, when a competitor who has not paid for the right to be associated with the Games nevertheless advertises in the Games city and at Games events. 'Beijing has promised to stop ambush marketing for the 2008 games,' one sports marketing manager said. According to IOC rules, the contracts of the organising committee should have no relation to those of the bid committee, which received support from many foreign and domestic companies, including General Motors, Telstra and Heineken. According to estimates, the city will raise US$130 million from 10 to 15 such sponsors, US$50 million from the sale of the Olympic brand and US$80 million from selling its assets, principally properties in the Olympic village, after the Games. Economists are urging the Government to let private companies play a major role in the Games, such as building stadia and facilities which they would lease to the city for the Games. Even though the event is nearly seven years away, it is already having a dramatic impact on the capital, with redevelopment projects launched within days of the successful bid being announced on July 13.