IF YOU CAN'T be in China for the Olympic Games, you can take part in the Evening of Champions celebration Friday in Chinatown, which will be held in conjunction with the opening of the games in Beijing.

The event, scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m., will be held on 10th Street between Arch and Race streets.

Ambassador Consul General Peng Keyu and Mayor Michael Nutter will be special guests at the festivities. They will be joined by 30 former Olympians, from Scott Allen, who won the figure-skating bronze in the 1964 Winter Games in Innsbruck, Austria, to 2000 swimmer Maddy Crippen and 2006 figure skater Johnny Weir, all of whom will be signing autographs. In addition to Allen, other former medalists scheduled to be there include Lesley Bush (diving, 1964, gold), Nelson Diebel (swimming, 1992, two golds), Villanova's Erv Hall (track, 1968, silver), David Krmpotich (rowing, 1988, silver) and Betsy Mitchell (swimming, 1984, silver).

The Sports Showcase will give participants a chance to try out several Olympic sports, including basketball, baseball, fencing, soccer, gymnastics, ice hockey, rowing, table tennis and track and field. The Phillies' interactive display will provide an opportunity to pitch to a catcher, and the Flyers' display will provide a chance to take a shot on goal.

The Chinese Cultural Showcase will include acts by Philadelphia Suns Lion and Dragon Dance; the University of Pennsylvania's Chinese Dance Club performing Han Dynasty Dance; Lu Kai Zhi performing Olympic Song; Northern Wu Shu School performance; and the Jade River Dancers. In addition, youth artists will teach eventgoers how to make origami stars, and there will also be face painting.

The opening ceremony in Beijing, scheduled to be broadcast on Channel 10 beginning at 7:30, will be shown at the Evening of Champions, a free event that is sponsored by the city and the Philadelphia Sports Congress. *

- Khristian Peel

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