Former IOC official given China's Friendship Award Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Hein Verbruggen, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Honorary Member and president of the General Association of International Sports Federations, was given China's 2008 Friendship Award in Beijing Tuesday for his contributions to the Beijing Olympic Games.

Ji Yunshi, director of the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA), praised Verbruggen's efforts in Beijing's bid for the 2008 Olympics and organization of the Games.

Ji said Verbruggen, as former president of the Evaluation Commission for the 29th Olympic Games and former chairman of the Coordination Commission for the 29th Olympic Games in Beijing, held a comprehensive, objective and fair attitude in evaluating Beijing's ability to host the Games, helped China cooperate with some other countries to organize work, and actively introduced China's efforts for the Games to the international community.

Verbruggen said at the award ceremony that the most important thing about the award for him was its name "friendship," noting that not only he had worked together closely with his Chinese colleagues for the Beijing Olympics, but also he made many Chinese friends in China.

Verbruggen said the Beijing Olympics witnessed "perfect organizations," adding that would be "tremendous legacy" left by the Games to China.

"I can't think of anything negative (of the legacy). I think it's very positive," he said.

Beijing had seen improvement in many aspects including traffic, environment due to the Olympics. The Games brought spectators worldwide to pay attention to China and provided opportunities for foreigners to better understand China, he said.

He also attributed the success of the Beijing Olympics to the Chinese people.

The Friendship Award, set up in 1991, is China's highest award for foreign experts who have made outstanding contributions to China's economic and social progress. 

Editor: Mo Hong'e
Source: Xinhua