China’s Power Show
“Beijing Olympics showcased the rising might of China and its continuing free speech phobia,” said the Houston Chronicle:
The state-of-the-art athletic venues — epitomized by the surreal Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing — were packed and ran like clockwork.
The much-anticipated air pollution over the Chinese capital for the most part never showed up due to the enforced demobilization of hundreds of thousands of workers, vehicles and factories.
The designated protest areas mandated by Olympic protocol were deserted, and some of those who applied for permission to use them earned a ticket to a re-education camp.
The Chinese threw a $40 billion sports bash and invited the world to party as long as the visitors stuck to the government’s rules. The sporting events were a feast for global viewers, with winning performances by athletes from 55 nations. American swimmer Michael Phelps won a record eight gold medals, and the Jamaican sprinting sensation Usain Bolt blazed his way to three golds. The U.S. team led in total medals, while the Chinese won more gold.