BEIJING (Reuters) - Celebrity athletes can expect no special treatment at Beijing’s Olympic village, its vice-director said on Wednesday, after world tennis number one Roger Federer said he was unsure whether he would stay with fellow athletes.
Federer said this week he had yet to make up his mind after experiencing difficulties in Athens in 2004, where his high profile drew a lot of attention from other athletes.
“Every time you go eating and people tap you on the shoulder, I don’t mind it, but I wish it was different just one day of the week,” Federer said.
Yu Debin, the village’s deputy director, said all athletes would experience the same conditions.
“In the Olympic village, all athletes are equal. We have the same (policy) for all athletes,” Yu told reporters.
Former Olympic tennis champion Boris Becker on Wednesday urged Federer to stay in the athlete’s village, saying the experience helped him clinch doubles gold with countryman Michael Stich at Barcelona in 1992.
Earlier this week, Brazilian Football Confederation president Ricardo Teixeira said the country’s Olympic soccer team, which could include World Player of the Year Kaka, would stay in the athlete’s village in Beijing.
Olympic organizers on Wednesday gave a preview of the unfinished village, which will hold 16,000 athletes and officials during the Olympics, and 7,000 during the Paralympics.
Reporters were shown a sparse but comfortable-looking apartment in a low-rise grey and white brick building on the western fringe of Beijing’s main Olympic complex.
The village will be converted into a “high-end residential community” after renovations following the Paralympics to “guarantee its legacy”, Yu said.
Apart from facilities for worship for “five major religions” -- Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism -- the village will provide Chinese cultural performances, including tai chi and other martial arts exercises, for athletes’ entertainment, organizers said.
("Countdown to Beijing Olympics" blog at blogs.reuters.co m/china))
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Jerry Norton