Opening Ceremonies

So it was announced today that President Bush will be attending the opening ceremonies of the olympics in beijing as part of a trip which also includes thailand and south korea. In general, I suppose I am supportive of his going to the olympics as a show of support for the ideals of the olympics and for US athletes but I am still opposed to the beijing olympics in general. Actually, I think its a travesty that beijing was allowed to host the games for a whole variety of reasons. For those who don't remember, Beijing beat out Toronto and Paris to be the host city with an absolute majority of voters ( would have picked toronto...based mostly on proximity but also a distrust of the french to play fair...jk). Upon the announcement, a vice premier announced, "The winning of the 2008 Olympic bid is an example of the international recognition of China's social stability, economic progress and the healthy life of the Chinese people." I'm not even sure I know where to start with this one. Having just been to beijing I think I have a particular perspective on this that many others may not (except of course for the 12 million chinese living in greater beijing). If the beijing olympics are really a recognition of all these things then the olympics committee must define their terms differently than I do. With that in mind, I present an IOC glossary as interpreted by the PRC

Social Stability: The ability of a government to suppress free speech and action as a means of limiting descent and the inate rights and liberties of its people.
Economic Progress: The forced relocation of millions of impoverished citizenry for the purpose of providing labor conducted under inhumane conditions with little economic benefit for those performing said labor.
alt definition: halting humanitarian intervention in foreign countries committing genocide for percieved economic benefit
Healthy Life: Living in a city where the average person loses 7-10 days/year of productivity due to air pollution close to 5 times above WHO safety standards.
International Recognition: Inability of IOC members to see past heabily censored media coverage of a country with more skeletons in its closet than an anatomy lab.

On a more positive note, I was able to visit some of the olympic venues while I was there and they really do look spectacular (through the smog). The birds nest stadium is huge and really a sight to behold as an engineering marvel of the highest kind. The aquatics building sits just across the way and is equally a sight to behold. These both sit fairly close to the center of the city which I think will provide an interesting cultural backdrop to the games. A nice mix of an event determined to bring all countries together for competition and fair play and a government determined to eliminate competition to ensure its own survival and ignore international standards whenever possible for whatever reason. All that being said, China was a very interesting country and I wish I could have seen more because its seems impossible that a country with more than one city like Beijing could survive in a modern world. For certain, China has a long way to go before they will be up to my standards. Hopefully these games will have them on their way sooner rather than later and that the international attention will do some good to expose not only China to the world but also the world to China and its people. Patrick OUT!!!

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