2008 Beijing Olympics

We’re just one week away from the start of the 2008 summer games!  Excited?!  The opening ceremonies will be airing next Friday evening, with plenty of events starting the following day.  I need to take the time and figure out what needs to be watched and recorded, and on what channels.   The olympics always provide a nice diversion from the norm, it should be fun.

This year in particular, there are a few side-stories that I’m interested in seeing play out:

Pollution in Beijing

Ever since Beijing was awarded the 2008 summer games way back in 2001, they have been working on plans for curbing the pollution for the games.  They have spent a fortune. According to this article out of China, they were planning on spending $3 Billion on pollution control in Beijing – last year alone. They’ve even employed a Research Center for Weather Modification (that’s a little scary, isn’t it?).

I’ve tried to find updated figures, but haven’t been able to really track any down.  Probably because it isn’t working.  They have shut down factories in something like 5 provinces and mandated a 50% drop in car traffic (you can only drive every other day, based on license plate), but the smog persists (note: that article puts the pollution control cost at $17 billion).  It’s so bad that it’s nearly triple the World Health Organization’s acceptable levels, and at least one athlete has pulled out, guarding his health.  The US Olympic Committee has apparently been developing a top secret mask to fight the pollution, and some teams are going to be wearing red contact lenses to help see through the haze.

So, it’s going to be interesting to see how many events will be impacted by this – both in delays and just poor performances by the athletes.

Censorship and criticism in Beijing

Related to the pollution topic, I’m curious as to how Chinese officials are going to react when they start hearing public/broadcast criticism of the poor air quality.  Or will the broadcasters keep mum until they’re out of China?

The censorship issue is rearing its head again.  China is known for its notorious censorship, in recent years for their stranglehold on the internet with the Great Firewall of China.  When they were given the Olympics, they agreed to allow free access for visitors, but as of today that is a lie (can’t have a reporter looking up Amnesty International or reading about the monks’ plight!).

New Speedo Swimming Suit

With the help of NASA engineers, Speedo came out with a controversial new suit last year called the LZR (pronounced Laser).  It’s controversial because of its amazing ability to reduce drag on a swimmer. Those countries that don’t have it are protesting its use, and those that do are breaking records at a dramatic pace.  Only time will tell how many Olympic records are going to fall.

Local Diver

The Springfield area is seeing a local athlete in the competition.   Kelci Bryant of Chatham, IL is competing in synchronized diving – definitely an event I normally wouldn’t watch, but will now.  Good luck Kelci!

Algae Bloom

There’s an enormous algae bloom overtaking the water where the worlds best are supposed to compete.  Thousands and thousands of citizens and fishermen are trying to clean it up – will it be enough???

It’s going to be a fun couple of weeks!

And on a related note, I saw a photo today on one of the news sites of a Chinese worker tending to the grass outside of the massive Olympic Greens.  You know you have too many people when you’re cutting the grass with scissors!

Anyone else out there find any of this interesting?

8 thoughts on “2008 Beijing Olympics

  1. I do, I do! I was thinking last night about the Olympics being in China. I just can’t picture it going off without a hitch. There is always drama at the games, but this time it might be due to something quite a bit different. We’ll see.


  2. Could be one of the more intriguing Olympics in recent memory and not because of the Games themselves. A LOT of subtext to the Chinese hosting.


  3. I understand that the Chinese officials have bowed a little to the firewall preventing access to certain websites. The foreign journalists in certain hotels are now supposed to be able to access them, but not the masses. God bless America!


  4. I’ve noticed the crowds don’t seem too big this Olympics. I think it is due to the poor planning of the timing of the event. A simple Google search would have turned up that the dates for the Illinois State Fair are roughly the same, which I believe to be stealing a large part of the usual Olympic fan base. Syncronized diving? Not when you can see the high dive show every day at 1:00 3:00 and 6:00. Opening ceremony? Ha! Not with Fergie playing the fair this year. Phelps and 8 golds… whatever, I hear there is some sheep from a town of 3 people that doesnt yet have a name that’s looking good for 11.


  5. I’ve noticed the lack of crowd too, but didn’t put two and two together. Thanks, Brian. Your attention to detail astounds.

    Looking through the stands on TV, I think some of the spectators could use some good ol’ chocolate covered, deep fried butter on a stick. And a $10 lemon shakeup to wash it down with.


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