Chinese, Russian athletes to join hands against United States


MOSCOW, June 16. (RIA Novosti) - Russian and Chinese athletes are preparing to put on a joint front at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 against the other sporting superpower: the United States.

Today's issue of the Izvestia daily reported that this deal was done during a visit to China made by the Russian Olympic Committee last week.

"The Chinese have never been so open before," said ROC President Leonid Tyagachev in an interview with the paper. "For the first time they invited foreigners to the Beijing national training center, which comprises nine complexes for strategic sports - swimming, diving, gymnastics, track and field athletics, weightlifting, badminton... It is a spectacular sight: huge halls where hundreds of sportsmen from national teams train, everything is beautiful and modern. Besides, we were shown two training centers situated at a height of almost 2,000 meters above sea level in the Kunmin district. We signed an agreement on an exchange of coaches and training methods. They even promised to share the Chinese medicine they use to improve results."

The reasons for this openness became clear very soon. According to the strategic plan of the country's supreme leadership, at the Games in Beijing the Chinese team must take the first place in the team classification, winning 110 medals, 40 of them gold. That means they not only have to hope for U.S. to slip up. So the Chinese offered the Russians opportunity to join hands against America.

"They hope that we will take some of the medals in sports that are traditionally considered 'American', i.e., swimming and track and field," Tyagachev explained. "They speak openly about it: we cannot give in to the U.S."

So far he said the parties had not agreed on how to divide the sports into "Russian" and "Chinese" ones. "Although they [the Chinese] guaranteed that, for example, if a Chinese diver fails, the entire audience will support a Russian, not an American," Tyagachev said.

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