Editor’s note: Filling in for LTW Editor Rick Smith in writing The Skinny today is U.R. Anonymous, a Triangle-based entrepreneur.
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – If you want proof that the best and brightest rarely go into public service, you need look no farther than the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
Did no one have the foresight to think that there might be problems in awarding the games to China? Ok, let’s say they did ask the question and the answer was, “yes we suspect there might be challenges, some serious, but we can manage them”. Where’s the managing part? These Chinese and IOC responses have ranged from brain dead to laughable.
The “environmental challenge” and the $12.2 billion solution: Presumably 10 years ago the International Olympic Committee visited China. The Chinese economy has grown dramatically, but smog and air pollution were an issue even then. Didn’t someone realize they were looking for a possible summer location? Traditionally those games are held outside, right? The Committee should have said, this is not an acceptable location.
The other possible approach they could have taken would have been to find smog free locations in China. However, the games were awarded to China. The pollution problem escalated dramatically with no response. From the Chinese perspective, why fix pollution when you’re cranking out products for the world like toys coated with lead-based paint?
Several endurance athletes don’t want to damage their career by competing in air that contains who knows what. The Chinese response is laughable and tragic. The game’s organizers plan to simply postpone any event anticipated to take longer than an hour to complete if the air conditions unacceptable. The broadcast networks have to love that plan! Can you see this conversation taking place? “The marathon and soccer finals won’t be held today. When will they be held? Ah, well, that depends on when wind and rain can clear out the sky. We’ll get back to you”.
The Chinese government pledged $12.2 billion to deal with the IOC has labeled the city’s “environmental challenge”. I actually couldn’t read that right at first. It might be interesting to find out what the IOC considers an “environmental problem.” Is it possible that the Chinese are furiously manufacturing oscillating fans? I can only imagine the RAGE these elite athletes have for being sent somewhere to compete that might end their career. Is it any surprise several elite athletes have bailed?
And these guys seemed so calm and nice when we first met them: Tibetan Buddhist monk terrorist doesn’t seem to trip off the tongue unless you’re governing China. They are trying to sell Buddhist monks as terrorists? They’re kidding, right? Full credit to the monks, they managed to get the world’s attention as well as give the Chinese government a black with the speed and skill of a Jackie Chan punch.
The protests in Tibet quickly spread to anywhere the Olympic torch went. The torch in a short time was “bashed about” in London, extinguished in Paris and taken for a bus ride, and played hide and seek in San Francisco. Security and Olympic officials seemed to get control of things slowly after that point. They also announced Jackie Chan would be one of the torch bearers. It’s nice to the torch got its own celebrity body guard.
Pressure mounted along the way for heads of governments to make the symbolic step of skipping the opening ceremonies. UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon followed other world leaders saying he would not attend the opening ceremonies for the Olympic Games in Beijing. Moon’s decision followed British Prime Minster Brown, Canada’s PM Harper and German Chancellor Merke’s decision. French President Sarkozy announced he would not attend and later reversed himself to say he was considering his options. I’m sure the French are proud of their leader’s decisiveness.
Moon’s reason given to the Chinese leadership was that he may not be in a position to attend due to scheduling issues. Seriously? It is hard to imagine what scheduled events would take precedence over the Olympic Games considering the dates had been set for years. This seems to be the diplomatic equivalent of a woman saying she needs to stay home and wash her hair.