09-04-2008 08:44Special Report: 2008 Beijing Olympic Games
GENEVA, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) -- Swiss defense and sports minister Samuel Schmid on Wednesday highly praised the organization work of the Beijing Olympic Games, which concluded on Aug. 24.
"The Swiss people and I have been very impressed by the quality of organizing of these Games," Schmid told Xinhua in a written interview.
"I would like to congratulate the authorities and the Chinese people for this magnificent result," he said.
Asked whether he agreed with Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), who described the Beijing Games as "truly exceptional", Schmid said the IOC president "is well placed to make an assessment".
"And the feedback I received from the event confirmed that assessment," he added.
The minister said one of the strengths of the Olympic Games is that they allow the world to learn about the host country, and vice versa.
"I think this is particularly true in the case of your country," he said. "The Games are a showcase for the organizing country. And China has seized this opportunity."
The Swiss delegation won altogether six medals, including two gold ones, during the Beijing Games, exceeding its target of five, which was the number it won in Athens four years ago.
Schmid said he was proud of the success and the impression produced by the Swiss Olympic team.
"All athletes have done their best and have brought honor to the country. For me, the mission is accomplished," he said.
The minister will soon start a visit to Beijing for the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games.
"This visit will give me the opportunity to discover the magnificent facilities that your country has built for the Olympics," he said.
He also expressed hope that the Swiss Paralympic delegation would have good performance in Beijing.
"For me, disabled athletes have already won a medal even before the start of the competitions," he said. "Their great achievement is to show us that disability does not prevent performance."
Swiss president Pascal Couchepin attended the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics on Aug. 8.