Athletes, officials, spectators and tourists can pick up the Bible, or just the New Testament, for free during the Olympic Games next month.
Tens of thousands of copies of the Bible, the New Testament and booklets with only the four Gospels (according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) have been printed specifically for the Olympics, said officials of China's Christian community.
News of the printing of the Scriptures should lay to rest rumors started by overseas agencies that claimed the Chinese authorities would not make the Bible available at the Games.
Reverend Xu Xiaohong, an official of the Shanghai-based China Christian Council, which is in charge of publishing, said 50,000 Chinese-English bilingual editions of the Gospel booklets were already printed by June. They are on the way to six cities hosting Olympic events in the mainland.
As has been the practice at earlier Games, the Gospel booklets will be available mainly in churches and the Olympic Village in Beijing, and in Qingdao, Shanghai, Shenyang, Tianjin and Qinhuangdao, said Xu.
Places of worship for people of other religions have been set up in the Olympic Village, said Chen Guangyuan, president of the Islamic Association of China.
The cover of the Gospel booklet will have the Beijing Olympics logo.
"This is especially significant (because) as far as I know, this is the first time an Olympics logo will be used on a religious booklet," Xu said. "The Olympic spirit and the spirit of living a 'purpose-driven life' that Christians believe in come together in the combination."
Nanjing-based Amity Printing Company, the country's major printer of the Bible, has printed the Gospel booklets. Its general manager Li Chunnong said 30,000 Chinese-English bilingual editions are being printed for free distributions during the Games.
The Beijing Christian Council has placed an order with Amity to reprint 10,000 copies of the bilingual Bible edition to be distributed in the Olympic Village, Li said.
Amity Printing is a joint venture of the country's Amity Foundation and the international United Bible Society.
"This is a major and exciting opportunity. We are privileged to be able to support the Church in China in the publishing of the Bible during the Olympics," said James Catford, chief executive of the Bible Society.
The Society, however, has no plans to provide free copies of the Bible in hotels, said Xu.
Churches in Beijing have been asked to provide people to man the Olympic Village chapel, where they will hold services and prayer sessions, said Liu Bainian, vice-president of the China Patriotic Catholic Association.
（英语点津 Helen 编辑）
About the broadcaster:
Meghan Peters is a foreign language expert at China Daily’s Web site. A recent graduate from the University of Washington in Seattle, Meghan has written for The Seattle Times, the Seattle Post Intelligencer and the Seattle Weekly, where she also worked on various multimedia projects.