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Beijing Puts on Friendly Face for Olympics


Athletes are not the only people in training for this year's Olympic Games in Beijing. The organizers have started a number of campaigns to teach citizens more tourist-friendly habits, ranging from "how to line up" to "don't spit". And volunteers who will work in the Olympic venues are learning how to smile and better serve visitors. Sam Beattie reports.

There will be plenty of smiling faces to greet athletes and spectators at this year's Beijing Olympics.

Women are training to be Olympic hostesses, and they are practicing their best grins -- grins that their teachers say should show between six and eight teeth.

One hostess, Ren Chao, says smiling for hours on end is hard work. "We have to wear high heels and stand with chopsticks in our mouths, books on our heads and paper between our knees. It is really tiring."

Most of these women are taking a three-year course to be airline hostesses.

They fit the Olympic organizers' desire for hostesses who are photogenic and versed in international etiquette.

On top of their normal classes, they spend two hours each day practicing how to stand and learning the art of the smile -- along with other good manners -- to help them greet visitors to the main venues.

Nine of these women have been given the honor of handing out Olympic medals to the winning athletes.

China's Olympic organizers say the presenters should measure between 168 and 174 centimeters in height, weigh no more than 55 kilos and must be good-looking.

"These students all basically have a good face, relatively nice figure and their body conditions and other aspects all fit the requirements of the service industry," says the vocational school's vice principal, Liu Wenjun.

An official media tour is a rare glimpse behind the scenes of preparations under way in Beijing, and more than 150 journalists packed in to watch the trainees demonstrate their hard-learned skills.

Yet the hostesses say they will not be intimidated by the crowds, when millions more people are watching them during the games. Cao Xiuting told us, "We are working very hard to be volunteers at the Olympics, so no matter how much pressure we face, we are confident we can overcome it with effort."

The Beijing Olympics will be China's debut to hosting a major international sporting event of this caliber, and it intends to welcome the world with a smile.

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