China’s Olympic Coup

What is China doing to prepare for the 2008 Beijing Games?

July 17, 2001

What is China doing to prepare for the 2008 Beijing Games?

Beijing has been chosen to carry the torch for the 2008 Olympic Games. But back in 1896, the first modern-day Olympic Games were held in Athens — with only 245 (all male) athletes from 14 nations participating. Since then, the Games have come a long way. In 2000, the Sydney Games welcomed 10,651 athletes from 199 nations (4,069 of which were women). Our new Globalist Factsheet takes a closer look at China’s Games to come.

What is the true Olympic “first” this time around?

China is home to one-fifth of the world’s population, but has never hosted the Olympics.

(Washington Post)

How will the Chinese people benefit from the Games?

“We won’t be driving these little cars anymore. We’ll all be driving Buicks.”

(Cheng Jianmin, Beijing cab driver, July 2001)

How big a deal is it for China?

Between 2002 and 2008, tourism revenue will grow 18%. The Games will add 0.3% annually to China’s economic growth — a cumulative gain of $32 billion.

(Goldman Sachs)

How will China’s economy develop between now and 2008?

By the time the Games are held in 2008, at current rates of growth China’s economy will have doubled in size from today’s level.

(Washington Post)

How will the Games enhance China’s global integration?

In an attempt to secure its bid for the 2008 Olympics, Beijing is planning to teach all of its 12.5 million inhabitants basic English.

(Financial Times Deutschland)

What about the bigger political picture?

“If people have a target like the Olympics to strive for, it will help us establish a more just and harmonious society, a more democratic society — and help integrate China into the world.”

(Beijing Deputy Mayor Liu Jingmin, February 2001)

What is China’s track record when it comes to sports?

China can boast a past that includes over 4,000 years of weightlifting, archery, wrestling and equestrianism.

(Economist)

How do the authorities want to tackle challenges for Beijing’s infrastructure?

As a preparation for the 2008 Olympic Games, China will spend $3.7 billion to ease Beijing traffic, tripling the length of the city’s highways — and quadrupling the capacity of its subway.

(Washington Post)

And what about the environment?

The Chinese government says it will spend $12 billion over ten years to clean up air pollution if it is awarded the 2008 Olympics.

(Washington Post)

How did China prepare its athletes for the Games?

To enroll in one of the country’s 3,000 talent schools and train to be future Olympic athletes, children must be able to run 30 meters (33 yards) in under ten seconds and jump 80 centimeters (31 1/2 inches) by the age of four.

(Economist)

What do Beijing’s citizens think about the Games?

As of early 2001, 94% of Beijing residents supported the Olympic bid.

(Gallup Organization)

Are there any concerns about China’s human rights record?

“Police in China can’t beat up people as they please. It is not like in the United States.”

(Li Bin, tour guide for Beijing Olympic bid committee, on dealing with potential demonstrators during the Olympics, July 2001)

What will the most peculiar venue be of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games?

The Chinese government intends to truck sand to the stone-covered Tiannanmen Square so Olympic beach volleyball can be played there.

At the same location — between the mausoleum of the late Chinese Communist chairman Mao Zedong and the Gate of Heavenly Peace — hundreds of thousands of people gathered in 1989 to demand more open and democratic government.

(Washington Post)

Finally, how will the 2008 Games change China’s international position?

“This means people around the world will stop bullying China for a while.”

(Beijing construction worker, July 2001)