Beijing Olympics III

Written by  //  August 28, 2008  //  China, Environment & Energy, Media, Olympics  //  6 Comments

NBC coverage and Photos of venues
Reuters   New York Times     CBC

China, Beijing Olympics ; Tibet
Official website
The Official Mascots of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games
The Olympic Emblem

Thomas Friedman: A biblical seven years
I’ve learned over the years not to over-interpret any two-week event. Olympics don’t change history. They are mere snapshots – a country posing in its Sunday bests for all the world too see. But, as snapshots go, the one China presented through the Olympics was enormously powerful – and it’s one that Americans need to reflect upon this election season.
China did not build the magnificent $43 billion infrastructure for these games, or put on the unparalleled opening and closing ceremonies, simply by the dumb luck of discovering oil. No, it was the culmination of seven years of national investment, planning, concentrated state power, national mobilization and hard work.
August 25

r-OLYMPICS-large.jpgBeijing Olympics Most-Watched Event in TV History (Hollywood Reporter)
NBC says it’s official: The Beijing Games has become the most-watched U.S. television event of all time. Through 16 days of coverage, 211 million viewers have watched the Olympics on NBC Universal’s broadcast network and cable channels, according to Nielsen Media Research. That’s 2 million ahead of the 1996 Atlanta Games, the previous all-time record-holder. FT: NBCU had seen a healthy return on its $894 million investment in exclusive rights to the Games. NYT/TV Decoder: “This proves the pipes still work,” Jeff Zucker, the chief executive of NBC Universal, said last week. “When you have an event that transcends popular culture, the only place you can aggregate these audiences is network television.” NYT: Getting American stars like Michael Phelps and the gymnast Shawn Johnson to perform live in prime time was just one of the moves and unexpected breaks, some going back almost a decade, that set up the spectacular success NBC achieved in the Beijing Games. NYT: America’s commercials at the Olympics. WaPo: The Games are supposed to bring out the best in those who compete, and these Games, seemingly more than others of recent years and decades, brought out the best in television, writes Tom Shales. USAT: More Olympic trials await NBC in London. WSJ: NBCOlympics.com will generate just $5.75 million in video-ad revenue from the Games, according to estimates from research firm eMarketer Inc. Independent: In addition to NBC’s massively successful television Olympic coverage, the supposedly old media company has also invested wisely in digital coverage of the games, writes Andrew Keen.

Spectacular end to Olympic games
Firework extravaganza brings Beijing games to a close as the flag is officially passed to London.

(Al Jazeera) A salvo of fireworks and a lavish ceremony in China’s Bird’s Nest stadium have brought an end to the Olympic games in Beijing.
Sixteen days of sporting events drew to a close on Sunday and the Olympic flag was officially passed to London, the British capital, where the next Olympic games will be held in 2012.
The stadium was turned into a kaleidescope of glittering colours with 200 acrobats taking giant leaps and somersaulting across a stage on spring-heeled stilts.
Proud China
(Reuters) The Beijing Olympics ended with a flash of fireworks, bringing down the curtain on a Games that dazzled the world with sporting brilliance and showcased the might of modern day China.  Slideshow | Full Article
An Olympic triumph for China

(Asia Times Online) As the blaze of fireworks, extraordinary athletic achievements and controversies fade into memory, it is important to give Beijing its due – its staging of the Summer Olympics was a stunning success. Why, then, the carping about the Games in the Western media? Is it sour grapes over China’s increasing international clout?
A final ‘feel-good’ win in the marathon with three worthy medallists concludes the Games
Kenya’s Wanjiru wins men’s Olympic marathon

With a smile on his face and enough strength in his legs to sprint to the finish, Sammy Wanjiru won Kenya’s first gold medal in the men’s Olympic marathon in record time. Wanjiru, 21, set a searing pace in the final athletic competition at the Beijing Games, obliterating the Olympic record with a time of two hours 6.32 minutes on Sunday morning.
Olympics a good springboard for change in China
Dave Stubbs, Canwest
Many say that China hasn’t changed since it was granted the Olympics, and in a variety of ways this is true. But a country that’s 50 centuries old isn’t prone to move with the dispatch of Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, who was fleet afoot when he arrived here and left as world’s fastest man.
Changes in ideologies, if and when they come, will be gradual. For now, the Games will leave a legacy of civic facilities, infrastructure and arenas for Beijing and China at large, and a fierce pride among those who played a part or simply sat back and watched.
China also must realize that it now will be watched much more closely, having stepped boldly onto a global stage.
Capitalism will continue to take root in this Communist land, the Olympics as commercial an endeavour as there is.
… There was huge pre-Games concern expressed about Beijing’s often-filthy air, which you sometimes could taste. But a couple of heavy rainfalls largely cleared the skies, and there wasn’t an athlete in any of track’s distance events who said the air quality was an issue.
The heat, however, was stifling, a sauna that fogged eyeglasses when stepping off a bus and melted brain cells after even moderate exposure. I’m not sorry to leave it now, and I’ll miss it terribly in February.
August 23
Kudos to the Calgary Herald for a stirring summation in the face of so much cynicism regarding the political under and over tones of the Games.
Olympic Games flame passion and humanity
(Calgary Herald) As the flame extinguishes on the Beijing Games, all summer Olympians deserve recognition for the great achievement of simply earning a spot at the Olympics. It takes enormous sacrifice, sweat and determination to get there.
Triumph is more than the elusive gold medal awarded to only a few. And it’s more than standing on the top podium singing the country’s national anthem, although that is the ultimate dream that quenches the patriotic thirst of any nation. A weeping Carol Huynh of Calgary exemplified that sentiment.
… And it might have taken him 39 years and nine Olympics, but Canadian Ian Millar finally won a medal, taking silver in the equestrian team competition event. The hardware may represent second best, but in Millar’s case, he steals gold for perseverance. Millar, 61, who first rode into the hearts of Canadians mounted on Big Ben, described what was a bittersweet moment, after losing his beloved wife, Lynn, to cancer in March. “I had an angel riding with me, that’s all I can say,” said a teary Millar, who became the oldest Canadian ever to win an Olympic medal.
Even those expected to win raised the stakes of elite athleticism, pushing physical boundaries to unimaginable new limits. The star of the Games is a tossup between American swimmer Michael Phelps and Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt. Phelps won a record eight gold medals in swimming, setting seven world records. Bolt did the impossible and became the first man in almost a quarter-century to win both the 100- and the 200-metre running races, and the only one to do both in world-record time.
Most of us may not think about these athletes or their sports again for another three years and 50 weeks. But we do have Olympic moments in our lives, of meaningful triumph and shattering defeat. If we can take any inspiration from Beijing 2008, it’s to strive for personal best in the various arenas of our lives. The Olympics is a wonderful reminder of the importance of striving to be our best.
May its flame burn ever higher, faster, stronger.
August 22
Herculean tales from the Olympic city
(Asia Online) With the Olympic spotlight shining brightly on Beijing, the everyday travails of some of the city’s residents have come to light. In a series of interviews, Cindy Sui discovers what many Chinese, especially those who’ve moved from the countryside, must endure to improve their lives in the capital.
August 21
While we refrain from reporting on individual events because the media are doing an excellent comprehensive job, as equestrian enthusiasts, we must acknowledge Eric Lamaze’s thrilling gold medal ride Lamaze wins equestrian gold for Canada [worth reading the comments although they run from enthusiastic and thoughtful to downright stupid]. This on top of the team’s silver medal is wonderful news, especially so because of the problems he has overcome. What a great role model!
Cold shoulder for foreign reporters
Even a feel-good story won’t lower the guard of village gatekeepers

A sign out front of a village tells outsiders to register and
that they will be subjected to a security check. (Kas Roussy/CBC)

August 20
The Olympics have passed the half-way mark and, while not taking away from Mark Phelps’ extraordinary performance, we admit to being more thrilled by some of the surprise medallists from smaller countries. As always, the developed world and other populous countries count medals and are loudly upset when they lag in medal count. That’s why it is such a delight to see the aptly-named Jamaican, Usain Bolt win the 100m dash. WOW! Still, we also are very happy that Canada has ended the medal drought and done so well over the weekend.
August 19
(Reuters) The locals are loving it: one man cycled 1,300km (800 miles) to tow his 98-year-old grandmother to the Games in a pedicab.
Further cheering the Chinese national mood, environmental authorities said Beijing had enjoyed its cleanest air in 10 years this month despite athletes’ pre-Games fears.
China denies all 77 applications for protest
China did not approve any of the 77 applications for protest it received in advance of the Olympic Games, leaving the three parks that China established in July for public protest empty. Smaller, unregulated protests, primarily organized by foreigners supporting a free Tibet, have been quashed and their organizers deported. Los Angeles Times/Associated Press (free registration) (8/19)
August 18
As we have said elsewhere, the Beijing Olympics have passed the half-way mark and, while not taking away from Mark Phelps’ extraordinary performance, we admit to being more thrilled by some of the surprise medallists from smaller countries. As always, the developed world and other populous countries count medals and are loudly upset when they lag in medal count. That’s why it is such a delight to see the aptly-named Jamaican, Usain Bolt win the 100m dash. WOW! Still, we also are very happy that Canada has ended the medal drought and done so well over the weekend.  And of all Canada’s medals, the most poignant – and the one that makes us happiest – is Ian Millar’s.
August 15
Beijing’s welcome mat not what sponsors hoped for
BEIJING — A new verb has been coined in Beijing during these Olympics: Bocog. As in, “Oh no, I’ve been bocogged again!”
It means to be unexpectedly gobsmacked by China, usually in the name of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games — BOCOG for short — with regulations and rules you never saw coming. Corporate sponsors, Canadians and even the International Olympic Committee are becoming very familiar with getting Bocogged as they experience the first-ever Olympics in China.
No medals for the IOC
(IHT) In spite of pledges of media and Internet freedom made to the International Olympic Committee while bidding for the 2008 Olympics, the Chinese authorities are continuing to block access to Web sites of some international human rights organizations, press freedom groups and overseas Chinese-language news Web sites. [It seems that DianasWednesday.com is one of the hapless organizations so targeted – now that makes us feel proud!] Reneging on promises to allow peaceful public criticism, Beijing is cynically using designated protest zones as bait to snare any would-be critics.
August 14
The media are getting snarkier about Bocog – the Beijing organizing committee – and not only about what The Guardian  refers to as ‘China’s Milli Vanilli moment’. Although that revelation has precipitated a world-wide outcry and made the voice behind the throne a star in her own right according to CBS.
August 13
(The Economist) Producers of the dazzling Olympic opening ceremony on August 8th acknowledged that an adorable nine-year-old girl in a red dress was miming her solo rather than singing, and that the actual singer had been removed at the last minute because of her round face and uneven teeth. They also revealed that the impressive 29-step progression of firework “footprints” that on television appeared to lead across Beijing to the stadium was a computer-generated graphic. More
August 12
(BBC) US swimmer Michael Phelps became the greatest Olympic athlete in history, winning his 10th gold medal with victory in the 200m butterfly. – No matter what else happens, the US will be proud of this. More

Getty and AP

Girl lip-synched another’s performance at Olympic opening
Under pressure from the highest levels of the ruling Communist Party to find the perfect face and voice, the ceremony’s musical director concluded that the only solution was to use two girls instead of one.
This is one of the stranger stories out of the Olympics – we were so enchanted by the beautiful little 9 year-old, Lin Miaoke, singing her little heart out — only the voice belonged to a 7 year-old…. The reason was for the national interest,” explained Chen Qigang, general music designer of the opening ceremonies, who revealed the deception Sunday during a radio interview. “The child on camera should be flawless in image, internal feeling and expression.” Olympic Balladeer’s Voice Was Dubbed
August 9
Beijing’s smog problems. Pollution over city getting so bad that IOC might have to consider changes to events
That point hasn’t been reached yet, but Achim Steiner, the executive director of the United Nations Environment Program, said yesterday that Beijing is “struggling at the moment to keep within the range of the weather conditions that they have committed for the quality for the athletes.”
Steiner praised Beijing for the measures it has taken since being awarded the Games in 2001 to reduce pollution. It has, for example, planted thousands of trees, built approximately 80 kilometre of subway lines, and replaced inefficient gas-powered buses with natural-gas buses.
On a less profound note:
The Olympics of Fashion: Opening Ceremony
August 8
Dazzling ceremony reveals China’s world dream
Drums thundered, firecrackers exploded and 14,000 performers flowed through the Bird’s Nest stadium in a dazzling extravaganza that presented a benign image of China and offered up a vision of global harmony echoing the Games’ motto “One World One Dream”.
In a heart-stopping climax, Li Ning, a Chinese gold medal-winning gymnast, was hoisted high above the stadium on wires. In slow-motion, he simulated racing around the rim before setting the giant Olympic cauldron ablaze.

By H.Darr Beiser, USA TODAY

From Beijing: The Opening Extravaganza — Conceptual and Political Art; No Chinatown Dragons
The Beijing Olympics are off with a bang. Red and white fireworks criss-cross the stadium as the crowd cheers.
One thousand men beat on large square drums. White lights flash off the drums with each beat.
A young girl in red steps forward and sings the Chinese patriotic song Five Stars as the crowd waves tens of thousands of red national flags.
The guard raises the main standard as the military band play the national anthem. The majority of the audience is clearly Chinese as a good part of stadium is chanting along to this not-very-catchy tune.
Now the birds nest stadium goes dark and a white scroll emerges from the center. As it unfurls the letters are made up of dancers in black. Pilobolus would be proud.
First the fireworks, then the Games
A record 205 countries will take part in the opening ceremony to the Beijing Olympics.
Seven golds will be available on day one of the Games. There are nearly 11,000 athletes competing for more than 1,000 medals in 302 events. [Reuters says 10,500 athletes from a record 204 nations chasing 302 gold medals in 28 sports.] China is fielding its biggest ever Olympic team with 639 athletes competing in all 28 sports for the first time, in a bid to top the medals table.
China has spent £22bn on hosting the Olympic Games – three times more than Greece did in Athens four years ago – and when the opening ceremony is staged no expense will be spared …it will feature 15,000 performers and 29,000 fireworks.
… about 80 heads of state, including George Bush, Vladimir Putin and Nicolas Sarkozy, will join 91,000 spectators at the ceremony.
The order of countries in the parade will be dictated by Chinese characters rather than European alphabets. Attempts to persuade South and North Korea to march as one, as they did in 2000 and 2004, have failed because the two governments were unable to reach agreement.
August 7

On Bad Air Day in Beijing, I.O.C. President Sees ‘Fog’
BEIJING – On the smoggiest day here in the past week, International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge praised Chinese authorities Thursday, saying they had “done everything feasible and humanly possible” to clean the air for the Olympics.
“The fog you see is based on the basis of humidity and heat,” Rogge said at a news conference. “It does not mean to say that this fog is the same as pollution. It can be pollution, but the fog doesn’t mean necessarily that it is pollution.
NBC_olympic_logo.jpg NBC Takes in Over $1B in Olympic Ad Revenue (CNBC/Media Money)
The Olympics are bringing in over $1 billion in revenue to NBC Universal, by some measures itself justifying GE’s ownership of the division. But the Olympics are far more than just a boost for NBC Universal, they’re also an unprecedented experiment with online content distribution, bound to transform the way media companies distribute their content. B&C: NBC will use its considerable Olympic Games platform to remind viewers that there will be something to watch after the Games are over. Marketwatch: You’d swear that the entire General Electric workforce has congregated in China to support its NBC unit, writes Jon Friedman. TVNewser: MSNBC will produce a two-hour, post Olympics wrap up show which will air weekdays from 5pm-7pmET beginning Monday. (Mediabistro)

6 Comments on "Beijing Olympics III"

  1. Diana Thébaud Nicholson August 5, 2008 at 5:53 pm · Reply

    Report from a friend with the Canadian Olympic mission
    After one week, I finally saw the sun today. There has been a pall covering the city since I’ve been here. After quite a bit of rain the last couple of days, finally, the sun came out and it was a gloriously sunny day. The sun was extremely strong. I went for a run around mid morning which wasn’t such a good idea. I am on a schedule whereby I go running every other day first thing in the morning which has been great. I usually go running outside of the village in and around the venues in the Olympic Green (i.e. where the birds nest is).
    The cafeteria food has been excellent, way better than in Italy (if you can believe it). Great selection, good change of meals every day, awesome salad station with everything you can think of to put on your salad. There are Asian, international, Mediterranean and halal stations, and of course a McDonalds and a McCafe (don’t laugh) which makes pretty good cappuccinos, and of course everything is all you can eat 24 hours a day.
    We have been spending most of the time over the past 7-10 days setting up our shop in the village … health clinic, surf shack, athlete’s lounge, coaches lounge, mission team lounge, administrative offices (where I am now), our performance video and viewing centre, and wellness centre. We have portable gym equipment that athletes can use in the wellness centre or in their apartments (swiss balls, bands, rolls, yoga mats, med balls, balancing boards etc … and of course we are replicating all of this in our out-of-village setup in our performance centre which has been going very well. This is a first for Canada.
    Our Bistro (at the Performance centre) will be up and running on the 5th (soft launch on the 4th). Our two Chefs, one from the Fairmont hotel Vancouver and the other from the Vancouver Four Seasons will be preparing meals for our athletes, and support staff. Robert from the Fairmont was named Vancouver Chef of the year this year, so we know the food will be excellent. He is an executive chef. He normally overseas a very large staff and operation, but over here he has very little staff (well none, actually) so it will be a very different experience for him (chop, chop, chop). He is relishing taking on the challenge we have given him.
    The apartments in the Olympic village are pretty upscale ( they have all been privately pre-sold ) and very spacious. The village is the most beautiful village I have ever seen. The landscaping, attention to details, look and feel of the place is very special. The village is still pretty empty, probably only 1/3 full, so when we are in full capacity middle of next week, there should be a real buzz to the place.
    They did a dress rehearsal of the opening ceremonies tonight … including a full fireworks show, so that was unbelievable too. There were thousands of buses and people walking around in costume .. it was pretty interesting to see the preparations.

  2. Gary B August 8, 2008 at 11:42 am · Reply

    For three hours I have been avidly watching the most splendid theatrical and educative (eg.The History, the FOUR inventions) spectacle I have ever seen and probably the most splendid harmoniously PEACEFUL one ever to have occurred on Earth.
    Perhaps? there is something to be said for a country run by engineers as opposed to ones run by lawyers & biznoids? Gary B

  3. Diana Thébaud Nicholson August 8, 2008 at 12:23 pm · Reply

    I’ve just watched the opening ceremonies. The Chinese have set new standards for the games. It is so extraordinary that it is also frightening. There is nothing that country can’t do and do better than all of us. Watching their performers in the stadium with the precision, force, power and ingenuity – one wonders what their army can do. One day, not so far away, they are going to need more territory – and I’m glad we’re not on their border. Kate

  4. Gary B August 9, 2008 at 1:24 pm · Reply

    Here is how my Professor friend at Chongqing University experienced it:
    I am so glad to know you share with us last evening in Montreal for the Olympic opening event.
    The most moved I think is the performance regarding the invention of paper, character and the theree type of (Sound “HE”) which means peace, harmony, all these reflect Chinese culture and civilization with long history. Also, the last torch relayer, Mr. Li Ning, the Olympic medalist of gymnastics for three times, performed a flyman or superman to ignite the biggest torch after a long trek of running, this means Chinese finally realized their dream for Olympiad after a long period of struggle.
    This opening performance is designed Mr.Zhang Yimou, the renowned film director in China, he also won many international honours.
    Also, the 205 members of Olympic family all gathered in Beijing with no absence.
    It is the most splendid peaceful mass gathering of diverse peoples ever to have occurred on Earth !

  5. Richard August 13, 2008 at 1:32 pm · Reply

    The most interesting aspect of these games being held in China is the huge lack of foreign knowledge about this vast and interesting country. The general ignorance of all things Chinese in terms of global knowledge coupled with the implications that China is likely to become the world’s next super power has created a fear which has led to a global stigmatism about the country. … The main reason why I have been preaching sensitivity about such issues is that the world doesn’t know about China the way they know about the U.S or Greece. The world is watching, and I fear is developing a strong ignorance of what China is.
    Leading up to the opening ceremonies last night you could feel the electricity in the air, everybody seemed to be overwhelmed with this unexplainable excitement. There were taxi drivers rushing home; others walked three hours just to watch the ceremonies with fellow Canadians, while others stood outside the Bird’s Nest and Tian An Men square just waiting to watch the fire works that engulfed the city as soon as the ceremonies were finished.
    … I have come to the realization that the vast majority of Olympic sports will vanish into obscurity for another four years once the games come to an end, but the real reason we have these games is to use sport as a transition to overcome religious, cultural and political differences. …These games allow all the countries of the world [to] embrace eachother because these athletes as individuals are not here for political reasons, they are here to compete in what is formally advertised as fair and respectful competition.
    As the Chinese sit on the edge of their seats, along with the rest of the world I am allowing myself to be swept away in this wave that each and every Olympic team is surely being carried away on.

  6. David Kilgour August 16, 2008 at 9:37 am · Reply

    Why I am boycotting the Olympics
    Charles C. Haynes / Inside the First Amendment
    The International Olympic Committee and the megabucks corporate
    sponsors of the games breathed a sigh of relief when the Beijing
    Olympics got under way last week with no major boycotts or
    disruptions.
    Last spring, faced with widespread outrage over China’s brutal
    suppression of Tibetan protesters and stubborn support for murderous
    regimes in Sudan, Burma and Zimbabwe, IOC chairman Jacques Rogge
    nervously insisted “a boycott doesn’t solve anything.”
    Rogge may be right. But that hasn’t stopped people of conscience
    around the world from banging freedom’s drum to counter the noisy
    celebrations of “peace and harmony” emanating from Beijing.
    One small but telling protest caught my eye: Masahisa Tsujitani, a
    Japanese maker of the iron balls used by most shot-put medalists in
    the last four Olympics, refused to provide his product for the China
    Games. “I feel badly for the athletes who won’t get to use my shots,
    but after Tibet I know I’m right,” Tsujitani told the Los Angeles
    Times in April. “Enough is enough.”

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