So the Israelis may not the best athletes in the world, but Israel has already started to take interest in the 2008 Olympic Games to be held in Beijing, China. This time it has nothing to do with athletics, but rather with several bids by Israeli companies to participate in the construction of the Olympic village.
This effort has taken a sense of urgency this week as a delegation of senior Chinese officials is due to arrive Tuesday to Israel. The delegation will be headed by Liu Qi who is a member of the Chinese politburo, secretary general of the Beijing Communist Party and the head of the organizing committee of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Qi was invited to Israel by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
Officials in Israel attribute great importance to the visit of such a high ranking Chinese official and say that it is another milestone in the close relationship between Israel and China. During his visit Qi will meet with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Vice Premier Shimon Peres, Defense Minister Amir Peretz, and Minister of Industry, Trade, and Labor Eliyahu Yishai.
In addition, as the Secretary General of the Beijing Communist Party, Qi will sign, together with Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, a sister-city agreement between Tel Aviv and Beijing.
In his role as head of the organizing committee of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Qi will also meet with the members of the Israeli Olympic Committee together with Alex Giladi, who is a member of the International Olympic Committee. Israel is competing on several huge contracts associated with the Olympics, especially in the area of agriculture and irrigation. One of the contracts is building a giant park in the heart of the Olympic village in Beijing.
In order to maximize the potential for cooperation between Israel and China, Qi will visit the Weitzman Institute, a factory in Kibbutz Na'an, a sewage treatment facility near Tel Aviv and meet with a panel of Israeli start up companies. The visit is supposed to deepen the cooperation in the areas of water, agriculture, and medicine.
Qi's delegation will include 17 members of the Communist Party, including the party's deputy foreign minister, deputy governor of Beijing, and another group of 14 managers of the leading companies in China. Three of them are due to sign deals worth tens of millions of dollars with Israeli companies.