Final Thoughts on the 2008 Beijing Olympics & China

Source: The New York Times

Well, after 2+ weeks of staying up late, the 2008 Beijing Olympics concluded this past evening with the Closing Ceremonies (all in glorious High Definition!). My only regret is that I didn’t make plans in advance to actually go to Beijing to be at the Olympics! (unlike one of our guest bloggers, who did). I was worried about the cost, hassle and difficulty of actually attending any events (or at least the popular ones). My only hope I think in my lifetime to see an Olympics in China is that maybe Shanghai will host an Olympics in the future? (Certainly, I don’t think Taipei will be bidding for or winning to host an Olympics).

Overall, I thought the Olympics were fantastic. The opening and closing ceremonies were on a scale that only China (and some have commented and noted, a Communist authoritarian government) could have pulled off. There were some truly amazing competitions and victories, from Michael Phelps winning 8 gold medals to Usain Bolt winning the 100- and 200-meter sprints, and the 400 relay were truly impressive and awe inspiring.

At 8Asians, our bloggers have blogged a lot about the Olympics – everything from the Beijing air quality (which turned out to be pretty decent, especially after it rained), the Olympic Torch relay in San Francisco, Taiwan’s participation in the Olympics, Chinese-American mixed feelings, and the U.S. Mint releasing gold coins to the actual games itself, with Asian Americans performing at the Olympics, the lip synching of Lin Miaoke to less-than-cute Yang Peiyi (according the the Chinese Communist Politburo), the racist Spanish men’s basketball team, Asian American reporters at the Olympics, the pressure Chinese athletes were under, etc…

I did want to blog about (but never got around) to the Chinese-American women’s volleyball coach, Lang “The Hammer” Ping and Shawn Johnson’s coach, Liang Chow – their stories are truly unique ones of former Chinese Olympians/athletes who went on to emmigrate to the United States and to coach for American Olympians, and much to the respect of the native countrymen.

No country is perfect, certainly not China (or the United States for that matter). To think that the Tiananmen Square massacre occurred less than 20 years ago and now China has just hosted its first (and hopefully not last) Olympics is kind of an interesting juxtapose, as this photo I took in San Francisco tries to demonstrate:

Tank man and the Olympic Rings

Bo has her own thoughts with her post, but I think overall, despite all the criticisms, how could the IOC ignore China’s bid for the Olympics, given that, in my opinion, worse regimes have hosted the Olympics, including Nazi Germany and the former Soviet Union? The focus on the Olympics should be primarily on athletic competition. Through healthy athletic competition and exposure to the world, countries such as South Korea have opened up more and eventually become thriving democracies. I’m not saying this is going to happen to China, but China will continually change for the better – it is inevitable – with the increase in economic prosperity and greater access to information and interaction with the outside world. Time and history is against the Chinese Communist Party.

Now, there are litteraly a flurry of articles in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal alone that question, what is next for China?

As Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, said in the Closing Ceremonies: “Through these Games, the world learned more about China, and China learned more about the world.” I hope that this is true, and that the “coming out” party was everything China expected it to be and that the world does know more about China. And from this, that the spirit of “One World, One Dream” is one step closer to being realized, not only during and within the Olympics, but in every-day-life around the world.

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About John

I'm a Taiwanese-American and was born & raised in Western Massachusetts, went to college in upstate New York, worked in Connecticut, went to grad school in North Carolina and then moved out to the Bay Area in 1999 and have been living here ever since - love the weather and almost everything about the area (except the high cost of housing...)
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