China gears up for people of all faith at Olympics
A multi-faith religious centre has been set up in the Games village here to enable athletes and officials from all over the world offer prayers, as part of the last lap preparations for the Beijing Olympics.
The centre equipped with 66 religious volunteers will offer services of all the world's major religions -- Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism.
"It is an international practice to host religious services for athletes and officials," Liu Hongliang, an official with the Beijing Christian Council, said.
"Meditation rooms have been built for athletes and officials who believe in other faiths too," the state-run China Daily quoted him as saying.
The 100-sq-m hall for Muslims will have separate enclosures for men and women with copies of Koran available free of cost.
"Our main job will be to provide a place for athletes to read the Koran and pray when they cannot go to a mosque because of their schedule," Yin Guofang of Beijing's Niujie Mosque and one of the 15 imams in the village said.
He said the Games, a little more than a fortnight away, are not only about competition, "but also a window to let the world see the freedom of all religions in China."
Besides, multi-lingual priests and religious places in the Chinese capital are also gearing up to receive visitors of all faiths and many places will be available for tourists as well to pray and attend multi-language services.
Masses in the city's Catholic churches would be held in many languages. Apart from English, masses would be conducted in German, Italian, Spanish and French at request of overseas organizations, Father Mathew Zhen Xuebin, Secretary General of the Catholic Church of Beijing diocese, said.