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2008.03.14   Speech of Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Mr Thomas Chow, at the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Hong Kong Flower Show

Mrs TSANG, Mrs YAU, Miss CHOY, Miss Hong Kong, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to extend a very warm welcome to you all to this Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Hong Kong Flower Show presented by LCSD.

2008 is a very special year – it is the Year of the Olympics. To tie in with this very special year, we have chosen “Vibrant Blossoms for Beijing Olympics” as the theme of this year’s Flower Show to tie in with and support the 29th Olympic Games to be held in our capital, Beijing, in the coming August. This will be the first Olympic Games ever held on Chinese soil, and it is a great honour for the Hong Kong SAR to be an Olympic City co-hosting the Olympic Equestrian Events.

It is also a great honour for all in Hong Kong to be a participating city of the Olympic Torch Relay. The 130-day event is a prelude to the Olympic Games and is instrumental in spreading the Olympic spirit and relaying the message of friendship and peace.

Ten more days from now, on the 24th of this month, the Olympic Flame will start its 137,000-kilometre journey through 21 cities across five continents in the world as well as 115 cities on Chinese soil. Following the tradition of ancient Greece, the Olympic Flame will be kindled in Olympia, Greece, and carried through the country before arriving in Beijing on the 31st of this month. The Olympic torch will then be relayed through 19 overseas cities before it reaches Hong Kong, the first stop of its journey in China, on the 30th of next month for the run on 2 May. LCSD and the other relevant government departments and community organisations are now moving full steam ahead with preparing for this big event. We are getting ourselves well prepared for fulfilling our duty to protect the Olympic Flame, which is the sacred and solemn symbol of the Olympic spirit. And we look forward to joining hands with all in Hong Kong to ensure the successful organisation of the Hong Kong leg of the Torch Relay.

In the show ground today, you will see a rich array of landscape designs featuring the Olympic mascots Fuwa and Fu Niu, the emblems of the Beijing 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Olympic Rings. There are also beautiful floral arrangements using the Torch Relay as their themes. We hope that all visitors to the Flower Show could feel the air of festivity and joy of the Olympic Torch Relay and the Olympic Games.

This year, more than 200 horticultural and greening organisations from 21 countries have joined us in displaying their distinctive potted plants, artistic floral arrangements and outstanding landscape styles. With an increasing number of countries and organisations participating, the Flower Show has become a platform for international exchange of horticultural skills.  I hope that every member of the public will be able to find time to enjoy what we have put up for them, to appreciate the flowers of dazzling beauty and displays of exquisite design.

The success of this Flower Show is all due to the great contributions of local, Mainland and overseas horticultural organisations and exhibitors, and the generous support of various sponsors. I would like to take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt gratitude to all of them for their enthusiastic support.

Let me thank Mrs TSANG, all the other officiating guests and all of you for joining us today, and I wish you all the very best in this Year of the Olympics.

Thank you.

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