Soon after the start of 2008, the operation team of the Beijing Olympic (Paralympic) Village was officially formed, symbolizing the launch of the operations of the village.
The facility, often called the "first village under heaven," will accommodate over 20,000 athletes and officials from various parts of the world, and the mayor of the village must take care of all of them to ensure the success of the Olympics.
The Olympic Village is a safe and secure accommodation complex reserved exclusively for athletes and accompanying officials, according to Rule 42 of the Olympic Charter.
Looking into the previous Olympic Games, the Beijing Daily has found that some Olympic Village mayors were known for their rich experiences as government officials or people devoted to charitable affairs.
Graham Richardson -- a career politician
The 2000 Sydney Games were a milestone in Olympic history as they opened an Olympic Village to assemble all athletes in one place, the first such scene since the birth of the first Olympic Village in 1924.
Before Sydney won the bid, the village terrain used to be a neglected plot, overgrown with underbrush. After several years of reclamation and development, it turned into a beautiful Olympic Village with 800 villas and 350 apartments to accommodate over 10,000 athletes and 5,000 officials from 201 members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
At a round flag-raising square, a man was awaiting everybody to come. He was the mayor of the village, Graham Richardson.
Richardson's political career took him from branch member to Cabinet Minister and made him one of the Labor Party's key figures before retiring in 1994. He took up the portfolios of environment, arts, sports, tourism and health in 11 years in Federal politics. Then he became a "Special Commentator" for TV Nine Network.
A board member of SOCOG -- the committee that organized the 2000 Sydney Olympics -- he was also the mayor of the Olympic Village.
Ioannis Manos -- a financial banker
During the flag-raising ceremony at the Athens Olympic Village on August 9, 2004, the man who greeted the Chinese delegation uttered a Chinese sentence: "I wish Beijing 2008 success!" That surprised all the members of the Chinese delegation and won their applause. He was Ioannis Manos.
Manos, in his 60s, holds a PhD in political science and was once president and managing director of the General Bank of Greece. Though influential, he was rather low-profile. Owing to repeated invitations from AOCOG president Gianna Anglopoulos, he decided to take on the post as an Olympic Village chief.
And he excellently led his team to provide attentive services for 16,000 athletes and 4,000 volunteers.
"You can become an administrator of a bank or an organization two or three times in your lifetime, but only once you became mayor of the Olympic Village,'' he said proudly.
Spencer Eccles -- financier and philanthropist
Born in 1934, Mr. Spencer Eccles is a prominent financier and philanthropist. He was once chairman emeritus of the Intermountain Region of Wells Fargo Corporation.
The Eccles family is noted for its philanthropy, and Eccles was actively involved in many of the various Eccles family foundations
When Salt Lake City bid for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, Eccles gave his full support, and after the bid victory, the Eccles Foundation announced its decision to donate 8 million US dollars to the Olympics opening ceremony and another 10 million dollars to building a stadium at Utah University, where the Olympics opening ceremony took place.
It was for his contribution and devotion, that Eccles was appointed mayor of the Olympic Village during the Games and received the Pierre de Coubertin medal from the IOC, the Olympic Movement's highest honor.
(BOCOG February 22, 2008)