July 7, 2008 / 6:38 AM / 11 years ago

Move over Mao, the Olympics are coming

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s central bank will drop former leader Mao Zedong’s face from six million new 10 yuan ($1.46) notes to mark next month’s Olympic Games.

A combo photo shows a commemorative bank note with a face value of 10 yuan ($1.46) to mark the Beijing Olympic Games. REUTERS/PBOC via China Daily

One side of the new cyan-colored note features the National Stadium, or Bird’s Nest, in north Beijing, the main venue for the August 8-24 Games.

The “Chinese Seal, Dancing Beijing” Games emblem, designed to look like the red-inked Chinese character stamps used since imperial times, is positioned above the nest, with the capital’s historic Temple of Heaven public park as a backdrop.

The reverse side features an ancient Greek marble statue of a discus-thrower, Discobolus, portraits of athletes and the numeral “2008”, the bank said.

The notes, to be circulated publicly, break the almost decade-long grip Mao has held on the country’s currency.

The communist leader has starred on all notes from small to large since 1999.

During Mao’s 1949-1976 rule banknotes generally featured workers, farmers, symbols of modernization such as trucks or planes, and mountain or pagoda scenes.

Mao first appeared on a banknote 14 years after his death, on a 100 yuan bill issued in 1990, along with three other leaders.

Seven new notes bearing his image on one side and backdrops such as Tibet’s Potala palace and the Three Gorges area on the other, were issued in 1999, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic.

Debate flares periodically about removing Mao from the notes, but no serious moves have been made recently.

In 2006 delegates to the country’s parliament, the National People’s Congress, proposed Mao make room for other leaders such as economic reformer Deng Xiaoping and Sun Yat-sen, considered the “father” of modern China.

(Reporting by Gillian Murdoch; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

For more stories visit our multimedia website "Road to Beijing" here; and see our blog at blogs.reuters.com/china

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