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Visitors to Great Wall Give Beijing Olympics High Marks


The Beijing Olympics will finish Sunday. But, even before the end, residents and foreign spectators are giving the event high marks for excitement and organization. Mike O'Sullivan spoke with visitors to one of China's most famous attractions, the Great Wall, and learned that many are also impressed with the host city.

This section of the Great Wall north of Beijing attracts Chinese tourists and foreign visitors, like the Kardel family from California. They once hosted a Chinese exchange student in the United States, and are here with him today. Chinese student Song Weijun is proud to show them his city.

"China and Beijing welcome the friends from all over the world and hope they enjoy the time here," Song said.

They say each side is learning from the other. Peter Kardel says the Chinese that he meets are curious.

"Just really anxious to know about America and where we're from and what our experience has been here in China, so far," Kardel explained.

Foreign tourists came to see the games, but many are also enjoying China's other attractions. Australians Robert Hardingham and Maureen O'Keefe say they are pleased to see that Beijing is a modern, efficient city.

"Particularly the transport system. It's so easy to get about. It's working well for us. And lots of restaurants, very clean, so really, really enjoying it," Hardingham said.

"Yes, it's a wonderful city. We've traveled quite a bit, but this is quite an experience," added O'Keefe.

Chinese business student Deng Chao says these Olympic games are important and may be a turning point.

'Especially in the development of China," Deng noted. "So I think the Olympic games may be the best thing to Beijing, even more China."

Andre Ceulemans of Belgium says he is having a wonderful time.
"But you know, some poor Chinese don't like it," he said. "They can't go to look and maybe they have to move from their small houses and so on."

Some residents have complained about the massive redevelopment in Beijing before the Olympics. Some lost their homes in the process. And, critics of China say the games are distracting from human rights concerns.

Australian Jason Kurfurst, a trainer for Indonesian athletes, says his visit gives him a fuller view of China, both its strengths and problems.

"Everything you see on TV, sometimes can be a little bit negative, but when you come over here, you see more of the positive side of things," Kurfurst said. "And, you tend to forget about some of the negative things, which I guess we shouldn't, in retrospect. But you're here at the Olympics, so you're really meant to worry about the political stuff away from the Olympics and just enjoy it for what it is and enjoy the friendship of the people."

He says he is also thrilled to get a chance to visit the one of the world's wonders, the Great Wall of China.

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