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February 27, 2010

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Success lies in small details

DENG Yaping, born in 1973, is regarded as one of the greatest table tennis players in the history of the sport. She won her first world championship when she was 16. By the time she retired at the age of 24, she had won both women's singles and doubles world championships at both the Barcelona and Atlanta Olympic Games and held 20 world championship titles.

News stories about the busy preparations for World Expo 2010 Shanghai and the beauty of the Expo Park as it unfolds have reminded me of the busy days and nights at the Beijing Olympic Village last year.

To realize our nation's century-old Olympic dream in 2008, we, as staff members of the Organizing Committee of the Beijing Olympic Games, were faced with a myriad of challenges and hardships. I can fully appreciate that this 184-day World Expo and the even longer preparations in the run-up to its opening pose equally tough challenges for Shanghai and its 19 million residents.

Based on my experience on the Organizing Committee of the Beijing Olympic Games, I have come to realize the importance that small details play in the success of a big event. For instance, when designing furniture for the Olympic Village, we had to lengthen beds beyond the standard 2 meters to accommodate very tall athletes like Yao Ming. We had to identify athletes with special needs and tailor products for them. All required careful consideration and planning.

As another example, cost-efficiency concerns required us to give first consideration to the needs of physically disabled athletes when designing furniture for the Olympic Village, otherwise there would be some significant waste. When designing wardrobes, we had to ensure that clothes racks were low enough for wheelchair-bound athletes to reach. We also raised the height of bed sideboards and the weight capacity of rails to make getting in and out of bed easier and safer. We had to consider the special needs of armless and fingerless athletes when designing drawers and cabinet doors that they could open conveniently and safely.

In retrospect, there were countless details that may seem trifling to most people but proved so important to the smooth functioning and success of the Olympic Village. This attention to detail embodied the heartfelt tributes of our whole committee to the Olympic Games.

Compared with the Beijing Olympics, which hosted some 16,000 athletes and officials as well as over 20,000 reporters, the Expo site is expected to receive around 70 million visitors from all over the world. We can readily imagine, therefore, the number of details that must be considered and the innovative thinking that has gone into finding solutions to problems, however small.

A considerable part of this work relies on the participation of volunteers and the cooperation of all our residents. I hope our young volunteers for this World Expo will inherit the spirit and smiles of their predecessors at the Beijing Olympic Games and will show sincere kindness to every visitor touring the Expo Park.

I am looking forward to the opening gala of the World Expo 2010 Shanghai on May 1. It will be a great pageant celebrating the aspirations of urban life in the new century and will also be another example of China's ability to amaze the world.

I believe that this World Expo, like the Beijing Olympic Games, will imprint beautiful memories in visitors from across the globe, creating a lasting and powerful image of the humanitarian spirit of this city and this nation.

I also believe that every contribution we will have made and all the details we so carefully tended will play a role in the success of this grand event.


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