Beijing Olympics, Part One

7 12 2007

In a few short months — nine of them to be exact, and how short they actually are is to be seen — a throng of unusually physically capable people will go to Beijing and compete against each other in the 2008 Olympic Games. Millions of others will flock in to a city that’s already turgid, an overpopulated metropolis filled with the citizens who overpopulate the most populous country in the world.

In August, China will be in the spotlight. Virtually everyone’s vote for Next World Power will be examined, scrutinized critiqued like it hasn’t before. In short, it has to face the world public, instead of just interested readers.

I’m interested in how this is all going to shake out, what with the waves of public service campaigns currently being enacted throughout China, including but not limited to teaching people to wait for people to leave the subway before getting on, to stop spitting in public, to stop throwing gum on the street, to stop relieving themselves in public, to put pants on their children and to stop using badly translated English.

But they’re trying, hard, and as this story from Slate says, a lot is going to change over the next nine months. At least the intrigue about how fit (or how horribly unfit) China is to host these Games will offer a welcome respite from the tedium of the Games themselves.

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