Games without fun?

Trip Start Jan 30, 2007
Trip End Dec 31, 2011

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Flag of China  ,
Saturday, August 9, 2008

Has tight security wiped fun off Olympics agenda?
That is the question some are asking about the Beijing Olympics. Too much security. Too much of 'show the world the smiling face' of China.

Canadian TV have this story:

BEIJING -- The Olympics have been hyped as China's "coming out party" on the world stage, but so far this summer Beijing hasn't been much fun.

Usually, locals spill onto the streets when the weather turns warm and the spring sandstorms end.

Middle-aged couples practice ballroom dancing in public squares and young people eat slices of watermelon or barbecued meat on skewers while sitting at outdoor tables late at night.

Drinking cheap Tsingtao beer on an outdoor patio while listening to a band from the city's newly booming music scene is also another familiar summertime pleasure.

But outdoor tables at bars and restaurants are forbidden on some streets this summer, reportedly for security reasons, as part of a general crackdown that has seen pirated DVD shops close, bars raided and cultural events such as concerts cancelled by nervous officials.

During the Olympics, dubbed the "No Fun Olympics," or the "Killjoy Games," bars must close at 2 a.m. That's common in Canada, but liquor consumption is far more casual in Beijing.

And closing times are rarely enforced, or even known to exist, while smaller bars often close their doors when the patrons decide to head home.

Some popular restaurants and clubs near the Workers' Stadium, a downtown Olympic venue for soccer (and the former site of public executions) are being forced to shut down entirely during late July and August.

And there have been reports - denied by the Public Security Bureau - that other bars in the area have been told not to serve Mongolians and black people during the Olympics.

Even street snack vendors, who serve delicious traditional local treats such as jianbing - buckwheat crepes with egg and spices - have largely vanished from central Beijing except for one sanctioned strip of stalls that serves novelty foods like skewered scorpions to tourists.

Newly introduced security checks mean extra screening before even entering the Capital Airport, as well as lineups at subway stations and the hundreds of checkpoints surrounding the city.

Not to mention the random stops from police officers asking to see your documents.

The Chinese authorities don't want anything happening during the Olympics that may embarrass them, especially after the riots and demonstrations in Tibetan areas this spring and the protests along the Olympic Torch relay route that drew negative international attention to the country.

Presumably out of fears that foreigners might gather and cause problems, many public events -- in particular those involving non-Chinese -- have been cancelled in the past few months.

It has also become more difficult for foreigners to get a visa to China in recent months. Correspondingly, tourist arrivals were down this spring compared to previous years, and hotels in the capital that had expected to be sold out this summer still have rooms available.

Beijing wants to present itself as modern and international, a tidied up version of its bustling-but-comfortable self, and so it has waged innumerable campaigns to rid the city of its usual relaxed public behaviour. The no-spitting campaigns have drawn the most attention, and seem to have been ongoing -- so far unsuccessfully -- since at least the 1970s.

But tourists who visit during the Olympics will have to venture into areas away from official venues to observe the local colour that makes this city so charming and different from other world capitals.

Beijing is promising a "safe and peaceful Olympics." But a fun Olympics doesn't seem to be on the agenda.


August 01, 2008 at 8:31:13 AM
I.R. - Milton
I wouldn't waste my time even watching this year's games on TV let alone read about them in the news.

As long as they are reported and headlined, it will be no TV news and no newspapers (online) for me until the Fall.

The Olympics have become a political farce and we are all to blame.

My disgust for the Chinese Communist regime trumps the athlete's prowess. I feel for the athletes but this is the 21st century and I value freedom above sports and politics.

August 01, 2008 at 9:10:00 AM
Rick G.- Sarnia On
My brother has been in Beijing for years and describes the atmosphere as very challenging. Visa issues abound, new rules pop up everywhere. Many of his friends have been booted from China leaving homes, jobs, and family behind. It certainly is a difficult time to be there. A couple years ago I had thought of visiting him during the Olympics and am now very grateful I didn't follow through and saved myself the financial and mental stress this would have caused.

August 01, 2008 at 9:23:27 AM
"...The Chinese authorities don't want anything happening during the Olympics that may embarrass them"

That is because the Chinese government have a lot of reasons to believe they could be embarrassed due to their terrible record on abuse of their own people. Any government that targets its own people and commits the kind of human rights abuses that China has done should be embarrassed and I hope they get exposed for the terrible government they are.

August 01, 2008 at 9:26:04 AM
Legalism breeds rebellion
Legalism breeds rebellion and there are few places on earth quite as legalistic like China. One of these days they will have a widespread rebellion if the government doesn't change their ways.

August 01, 2008 at 9:40:15 AM
Robin the Hood
Between the steroids and the incompetence of the IOC the Olympics have increasingly been a farce for a while now. Obviously they not longer belong to the people but have been hijacked by autocratic entities - be they corporate or governmental - for their own profit. The decision to allow a dictatorship to host the Games is the final straw I guess. Any self respecting athlete (at least the honest ones who do not use steroids,.. I would not expect the others to care anyway) will stay home this time around. The Olympics do not exist in my household anymore.

August 01, 2008 at 10:06:04 AM
I remember watching the games as I was growing up, and I don't know about you, I do think the spirt of the games are there but the times we live in have changed the overall way we view the games, I do think China is doing a great job to do whatever is possible to make the games a great event. They, like Canada have there many faults but I try to see past the negative on most things.

August 01, 2008 at 10:11:48 AM
The Olympics are being held in China.

It is safe to say that 'fun' was wiped off the Olympics agenda the moment the International Olympics Committee decided that they would be awarded the event.

Recent events with tightened security and internet censorship issues - only allowing media personnel 'appropriate' access as opposed to 'free access' - is just making this Olympic period one of the more darker ones of recent history. Arresting people left and right, only now caring about urban air quality, ignoring or punishing everything that 'embarrasses' them in the global light - I agree with I.R. in Milton, in that there'll be no paying of attention to this year's Olympics. I support my nation's athletes, but there are far too many injustices tarnishing this period. And more depressingly, a political regime far too willing to ignore those injustices because of a 'we don't want to look guilty' mentality.

August 01, 2008 at 10:13:46 AM
Doesn't make a difference to me, I won't be watching. I go out of my way to avoid buying products made in China, there's no way I'll be watching games hosted by them.

August 01, 2008 at 10:48:26 AM
Red X
When the competition begins will the story be about the weather and the media? This is just filling in news cycles for now.

August 01, 2008 at 11:50:22 AM
Roger T
Cry cry cry, North America must be jeoulous of China's success and the vast amount of money they have to transform their infrastructure and skylines. We don't have anything new except aging infrastructures and bad news here, recession,mortgage meltdown,another of summer gunshootings on the rise,Gov't internal battling,Abroginal land claims and the list goes on......


August 01, 2008 at 11:59:28 AM
Nothing like a little more negative reporting of China to boost that anti-China bandwagon sentiment being fueled by our media. It's nice to see our readers always managing to dwell on the negatives being fed from these reports. If you think our media is "free-reporting", you really need to look into these things yourself, without buying into everything that's said here. Case in point, the gentlemen who tied "Made-in-China" products to the Beijing Olympics. They're unrelated, but somehow the media's managed to develop it all into an anti-China sentiment.

August 01, 2008 at 12:07:12 PM
I still have no idea why China was awarded these games. They obviously manipulated the IOC or rather the IOC is so corrupt and inept that the two - the Chinese government and the IOC are compatible.

If the story about restaurants in Beijing being ordered not to serve Mongolians and Blacks is true than this is a huge violation of human rights and the spirit of the Olympic games.

There were more deserving countries to host these games including India (the world's largest democracy), South Africa, Poland, Chili, Brazil, etc. Were any given a fair chance or even considered?

I agree with other writers here. Let's tune these games out and keep the TV off. The weather is going to be nice in August. Go outside and enjoy it and forget this farce.

August 01, 2008 at 12:14:17 PM
Reading the words like this "The Chinese authorities don't want anything happening during the Olympics that may embarrass them" I am outraged. The Chinese governments don't want anything happening because of the safty of the ten thousand of athletes, because of the safty of tens thousand of the journalists that include you this article's writer, because of the safty of the leaders who come from more than 100 nations, because of the safty of half million of the tourist they come to China almost at the same time. Safty is the most important thing for all of the foreigners and the local people.

August 01, 2008 at 12:56:09 PM
OK, now you are saying this and that about China and all are negative. Let's see how you'll respond if the Chinese save your athletes heads from being blown off. Ahh... I see, by then you would complain about the looseness of the security, right? Anywhere else but Canada is bad. So, please, I beg you all, save your money, pull back your athletes so that there would be less pressure on the Chinese national security; pull back your businesses and factories as well so that there will be less pollution on the Chinese soil. Build your own factory in Canada so that you don't have to buy anything made in China. The only bad thing is the price is going to increase a lot, but I guess some of you wouldn't care. So why don't you tell your government to do that since you are so free and democratic, and why don't your government do that since you think you are so righteous and considerate?
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