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BEIJING CRACKS DOWN, SPRUCES UP IN HOPES OF LANDING OLYMPICS

Guards checked bags and IDs at Tiananmen Square and police patrolled the vast plaza to prevent any protests Tuesday, a day before the start of an Olympics inspection crucial to Beijing's chances of hosting the 2008 Summer Games.

Traffic police were out in force, confiscating bicycles at one intersection and piling them onto a truck, apparently because they lacked the proper registration. Unauthorized newsstands were cleared away overnight, and pirated compact and video disc vendors -- usually ubiquitous around the city's tourist markets -- were notably absent.

The oppressive security contrasted with the city's well-groomed appearance. Crews touched up lawns with green dye, and sprays of colorful fake flowers lined the roads.

The last of the 17 Olympic commission members arrived Tuesday morning, one day before the start of a four-day inspection tour.

The inspection of Beijing's sports facilities, infrastructure and plans for holding the Olympics is pivotal to China's quest for the 2008 Games and the international prestige it would bring the Communist government.

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