China will allow tens of thousands of Gospel booklets and Bibles to be printed especially for athletes at the Beijing Olympics in August, the Bible Society involved in the printing process recently announced.
Amity Printing Press in Nanjing – the world’s largest Bible production factory – in partnership with the Bible Society will print 50,000 Gospel booklets in Chinese and English for the Olympic Games.
In addition to the booklets, 30,000 Chinese-English new Testaments and 10,000 Chinese-English complete Bibles will also be available.
"We are privileged to be able to support the Church in China in the publishing of these Bibles and Scriptures for the Beijing Olympics,” said James Catford, chief executive of Bible Society, in a statement.
"This great sporting event presents a unique opportunity to make the life-changing message of the Bible available to thousands of athletes and visitors from all over China – and all over the world.”
News of the Gospel printing for the Olympic Games follows controversy over whether Chinese authorities would allow Bibles to made available at the Games.
Last November, China’s foreign ministry spokesman, Liu Jianchao, had said the Olympics host respects religious freedom during the Games, but will not allow tourists to bring Bibles for “distribution or propaganda,” according to Agence France-Presse.
But in February, Christian evangelist Luis Palau said Chinese officials had assured him that Christians are allowed to take as many Bibles as they wanted to the Olympic Games to give away.
"I have asked officially from people here and over there. Any person can go in there and take Bibles, as long as they're not selling them," Palau told The Christian Post in an earlier interview.
"If they're giving them away, they can take all the Bibles they want. And I think that's going to happen. And I think that's very valuable."
According to the Bible Society, the Beijing Olympics organizing committee has allowed – for the first time – for its logo to be used free of charge on the Gospel booklets.
Places of worship will also be set up inside the Olympic village to provide religious services to athletes. The Church in Beijing has been asked to provide people to staff the chapel and conduct worship services and prayers.
Gospel booklets will be available in the chapel in Beijing, as well as in Qingdao, Shanghai, Shenyang, Tianjin and Qinhuangdao, where sailing and soccer events are taking place.
An estimated two million visitors and 16,000 athletes and officials are expected to attend the Beijing Olympics, which will begin on Aug. 8.