Monthly Archives: July 2008

It’s not about the ‘games’

For those who say that politics should be kept from the Olympics, they need to understand that it’s not about the games ‘stupid.’

Beijing began political. China is a Communist country. To host an Olympics, a nation must enter. Do you think Beijing did this without permission from the dictatorship? And do you think they agreed because they love their sport? Exactly…

Hence this from the FT:

Fund managers in China have been warned to watch what they say about the country’s stock market, in the latest manifestation of a pre-Olympic Chinese government crackdown on everything from Beijing weather to suspected terrorists.

In a bluntly worded notice distributed to fund managers, including foreign-Chinese joint ventures, China’s securities watchdog warned fund employees not to say anything publicly that could harm the stability of the market.

The China Securities Regulatory Commission, which issued the notice, did not make overt reference to the Olympics, but the message was not lost on local fund managers, who linked the notice to a broader effort to avoid market turmoil in the pre-Olympic period.

The notice warns fund managers of “20 risks” to be avoided in handling the release of information about the market, from protecting data security online, to vetting promotional material carefully, to monitoring public commentary.

“Fund company executives, fund managers and other important staff should be very careful about their speeches and blog content, which may cause market fluctuations,” the notice says, adding that companies should be cautious about holding public forums “which may cause market fluctuations”.


Olympic Immortals

For some great books on the Olympics, check out this FT piece.

A hundred years ago this week an Italian runner named Dorando Pietri staggered into London’s White City Stadium at the end of the Olympic marathon. Confused, Pietri “began to run in the wrong direction and then collapsed on the cinder track,” recounts John White in his excellent Olympic Miscellany. Some officials – one of whom is thought to have been the author Arthur Conan Doyle – helped Pietri up and sent him the right way. The Italian crossed the line first but the American team objected to the aid he had received. After some arguing, with fights erupting in the stands, he was disqualified.

No matter. Pietri became world famous as the subject of Irving Berlin’s song “Dorando”. Harold Abrahams, a later Olympic runner who was himself immortalised in the film Chariots of Fire, would say: “Such is the power of a good ‘story’ that for every thousand people who know Dorando’s name, not one is probably able to say who officially won the London marathon.” (For the record, it was American Johnny Hayes.


The Olympic Miscellany
By John White
Prion £9.99,160 pages
FT Bookshop price: £7.99

The Austerity Olympics: When the Games Came to London in 1948
By Janie Hampton
Aurum £18.99, 350 pages
FT Bookshop price: £15.19

Inside the Olympics
By Dick Pound
Wiley 288 pages, £11.99

Chalked Up: Inside Elite Gymnastics’ Merciless Coaching, Overzealous Parents, Eating Disorders, and Elusive Olympic Dreams
By Jennifer Sey
William Morrow $24.95, 292 pages

Beijing: From Imperial Capital to Olympic City
By Lillian M Li, Alison J Dray-Novey and Haili Kong
Palgrave MacMillan $18.95, 321 pages

No 4.

4. Liu Xiang

Hurdles, China
Age: 25

When Liu Xiang claimed victory in the 110-m hurdles in Athens, delivering China its first ever sprint gold, you could almost sense the alarm in the announcers’ voices. Few had heard of this mystery athlete, much less knew how to pronounce his given name. What a difference four years make. In Beijing, Liu, 25, along with basketball star Yao Ming, will be the poster boy for China’s mighty Olympic squad. Here’s a quick language guide: his name (pronounced Sheeahng) means “to soar” in Chinese.


Time Olympic Special

100 Olympic Athletes To Watch (Summer Olympic Preview)
From Australia to Zimbabwe, China to the U.S., TIME takes you on a world tour to introduce you to the most compelling athletes you’ll be seeing in the Beijing Games…

No.2 Dara Torres

Swimming, United States
Age: 41

I can’t stop staring at Dara Torres’ veins. They’re hard to miss, emerging as they do out of her impressively carved forearms; or the ones streaking across her calves. I’m obsessing over them because — well, because Torres, a nine-time Olympic medalist in swimming, is 41, the mother of a two-year old, and has just qualified for her fifth Olympic Games, something no other swimmer has ever done. Oh, and the time in the 100m freestyle that got her a ticket to Beijing? It was 2.47 seconds faster than her Olympic effort in 1988, at age 21 — a lifetime in such a short race. So I keep flashing to images of body builders and athletes pumped on steroids with veins bulging out their eyeballs and wondering, Does she or doesn’t she?


More ‘guides’

You could be forgiven for thinking that the Olympics is being held on another planet. What’s wrong with a regular travel guide? How about Time Out Beijing or the Rough Guide?

Anyone travelling to Beijing via Dr Who’s TARDIS?

To help American journalists headed to the Beijing Olympics strike more of a balance between what “we” think and what “they” think, UCLA’s Asian American Studies Center has released a brochure it calls a “U.S.-China Media Brief,” which contains pertinent statistics and concise explanations of the major issues confronting the two countries as the Olympics approach. The brief was prepared by the center’s staff, UCLA faculty and scholars from other institutions in California and elsewhere.

Thank you NYT for that update. I thought journalists were supposed to be educated in the first place?

Does anyone remember if such guides were produced for Seoul in 1988? Mind you, if George W had been in power during Atlanta 1996, maybe the Europeans would have produced one for the USA…?! 

Anyone working on one for the World Cup in South Africa 2010? Advice on how not to be mistaken for a Zimbabwean maybe?

Beyond Beijing: Exploring China’s Other Olympic Cities

Great little video on YouTube about the other cities that will be hosting Olympic events. Thanks to Danielle.

Opening Ceremony Preview

Sneaky photos thanks to Reuters: