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Bibles to be available at China Olympics


LONDON (RNS) — Despite controversy earlier this year, thousands of Bibles and gospel booklets will be distributed to athletes and visitors at this summer’s Olympic Games in Beijing – with the approval of the Chinese government.

The British-based Bible Society said the organization’s 180 affiliated branches around the world are jointly funding the project in a country whose Communist government once confiscated all Bibles during the turbulent Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s.

The Bible Society said some 50,000 booklets with the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John published in Chinese and English will be available at the Athletes’ Village in Beijing and five other Olympic cities. The games begin Aug. 8.

In addition, some 10,000 complete Bibles and 30,000 copies of the New Testament in Chinese and English also will be printed by the China-based Amity Printing Press for the 16,000 athletes and an estimated 2 million visitors expected for the games.

The Bible Society conceded that as late as earlier this year, there was controversy “over whether the Chinese authorities would allow Bibles” but said the project now “has the approval of the Beijing Olympic organizing committee.”

Peter Meadows, the Bible Society’s director of communications and giving, told journalists that the Chinese government “is quite happy to do things – as long as it’s done in the right way.