Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Olympic fatigue, part 2

A New York Times article published today tells how the IOC had no choice but to give in to a Chinese ultimatum to censor journalists’ Internet access to certain webpages during the Olympics. There’s a mood of depression and cynicism setting in among those of us who are following the prelude to the Games. Visas are heavily restricted but the Beijing events are sold out: the audience will be mostly Chinese. The news about Olympic preparations in China is all positive, the news abroad is mostly negative. I feel like the Olympics are mainly for the Chinese; everyone else is shut out; who on earth is making these xenophobic decisions? There must be some kind of debate going on inside the government: between those who have lived abroad and understand the hole the country is digging itself into, and those conservatives who don’t understand how Westerners think and who don’t want to relinquish their control. It’s a real shame the latter seem to be winning out.

This quote from an anonymous IOC official, published in a previous Times article, says it all:

Had the I.O.C., and those vested with the decision to award the host city contract, known seven years ago that there would be severe restrictions on people being able to enter China simply to watch the Olympics, or that live broadcasting from Tiananmen Square would essentially be banned, or that reporters would be corralled at the whim of local security, then I seriously doubt whether Beijing would have been awarded the Olympics.

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