27 Jul 2008

Olympic village opens

2:51 pm on 27 July 2008

The Olympic village, which will house 16,000 athletes and officials during next month's Beijing Games, has been officially opened by its mayor Chen Zhili.

Chen, a senior Communist Party official, was handed the key to the heavily-guarded compound by Beijing Olympic chief Liu Qi during a ceremony held under skies still grey with the pollution that China has promised to clear in time for the Games.

China is the first delegation to take residence by raising its flag at the village, with NBA All Star Yao Ming and high hurdles world champion Liu Xiang among the hundred or so athletes present to witness the event.

The New Zealand chef de mission Dave Curry is already in the village, while the first New Zealand athletes arrive this week.