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USA-China Sports Summit coming to Federal Way
By CASEY OLSON
The road to the 2008 Beijing Olympics will roll through Federal Way next year.
At a press conference Tuesday, the United States Olympic Committee and the Seattle Organizing Committee announced the creation of the USA-China Sports Summit, a new, international, multi-sport event to be held around the greater Seattle area, including the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.
The festival, modeled after the 1990 Goodwill Games, will be held June 8-12 and include world-class competition in track and field, volleyball, basketball, short-track speed skating, gymnastics, Paralympics sports, archery, as well as diving and swimming at the Aquatic Center.
Weve had a lot of big, international events like this in the past, said Mike Dunwiddie, the facility coordinator at the King County Aquatic Center. So we are in excellent shape to host it. But we are very excited.
Other possible sports are still in negotiation. Top-level U.S. and Chinese athletes, as well as other Pacific Rim countries such as Korea, Japan and Russia will participate.
Were delighted to be partnering with the state of Washington and the cities of Seattle, Tacoma and Everett for what should be an exciting event, said Jim Scherr, USOC chief executive, in a press release.
The inaugural event could feature as many as 500 athletes at venues around the Puget Sound area. Gymnastics will be held at the Tacoma Dome. Archery will be at Redmonds Marymoor Park. Skating events are scheduled for the Everett Events Center, and Seattle's Qwest Field will play host to the opening ceremonies.
The USA-China Sports Summit will give the citizens of the Puget Sound area a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be involved with the USOC, as well Olympic and Paralympic athletes from the U.S. and other countries, said Bob Walsh, chief executive officer of the Seattle Organizing Committee for the summit.
The athletic competition, dubbed The Road to Bejing, would be just a part of the festival, according to the USOC. There will also be several non-sports related events during the week. Performance-art and visual-art exhibitions from the countries competing at the invitational are planned. A youth exchange is also set to take place, and Dr. Lee Hartwell, a Nobel Prize winner and president of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, is expected be part of a leadership forum for Pacific Rim health leaders in Seattle.
Organizing sports, arts and cultural exchange events with the U.S. and the Chinese Olympic committees is a unique opportunity to further build our regions strong relationships, especially with Pacific Rim countries, Walsh said. Economically and culturally, there are exceptional developments underway in the Pacific region, and this event positions metropolitan Seattle to be an important player.
The event will be privately financed by the Seattle Organizing Committee, with an estimated bill of approximately $12 million. There are also plans for similar competitions in the Puget Sound area in 2006 and 07, according to the USOC. But China has the option of hosting the 2006 event.
The USA-China Sports Summit will be the second international, multi-sport competition created in recent years by the USOC, joining the Titan Games, which will be contested in Atlanta, Ga. for the third time in late summer 2005.
With the creation (of the two), weve developed sporting events that will intensify and maximize competitive opportunities for U.S. athletes and will increase fan interest in Olympic sports, Scherr said.
Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, email@example.com