Catherine Clarke Fox

This summer, China will host the Beijing Olympics. Thousands of top athletes and millions of fans will pour into Beijing starting in August. To prepare, the city has planned a lot of new buildings, including stadiums, hotels for all the fans, and an entire village within the city where the athletes and coaches will live.

Some of the new buildings are like no others in the world. The National Stadium, for example, is called the “Bird’s Nest". Even though it’s made of steel and concrete, the stadium looks just like a giant nest made of sticks.

At one point, as many as 7,000 workers were building the huge stadium! It has 91,000 seats for fans who want to watch competitions in sports including archery, BMX biking, and wrestling.

The National Aquatics Center is nicknamed the “Water Cube”. The outside of the building looks like a shimmering pile of soap bubbles, with 624 pillow-like sections that fit together to cover it. The special covering helps keep the temperature and humidity inside the structure just right.

Swimmers, divers, and water polo teams will all compete here. And when the summer games are over, the building won’t stand empty. It will be “recycled” into a water park.

The Olympic Village, where more than 15,000 athletes and coaches will live during the games, has a dining hall that can serve 5,000 people. The village also has its own shops, entertainment center, library, and even a fire station.

The Chinese have worked hard to try to make sure the Olympics aren’t bad for the environment. In the Olympic Village, solar panels provide some of the electricity to keep the lights on. Rain will be collected to help provide water for drinking and bathing. Lots of city buses and trains will mean fewer people driving around in cars and taxis that cause pollution.

Unfortunately, China is already one of the most polluted countries in the world. The government has tried to reduce air pollution from cars and factories in Beijing, but many athletes worry that the air is still unhealthy and could make them sick. Some are planning to keep their visits as short as possible.

The Chinese have thought of everything to make their Olympic guests more comfortable—including the weather. They even plan to use special techniques to keep rain clouds from spoiling the Opening Ceremony.

Text by Catherine Clarke Fox