China Tempers Olympic Medal Expectations

A bid from the upper reaches of China’s athletic power structure to reduce the likelihood of mass psychological break-down for China’s Olympic team, from AP via the New York Times:

Deputy Sports Minister Cui Dalin acknowledged that the Chinese public holds high hopes for the country’s athletes to top the medal tallies in Beijing. On Wednesday, he offered a long list of reasons why that likely won’t happen.

”We’ve got to take a pretty sober, objective view toward this. Overall, we’re not a big sporting nation,” Cui told delegates to China’s main government advisory body.

Like China, the U.S. has been downplaying its chances in Beijing, an apparent strategy to reduce pressure on athletes…Chinese athletes are under pressure from the public, with invasive media coverage making things worse, Cui said. Trainers were ramping-up athletes’ mental preparations by hiring psychologists to provide counseling, he said, without giving details.

For an example of the recent media pressure being exerted on China’s athletes, see Josh Chin’s post “2008: Impossible Expectations?” on Adidas’ new Olympic ad campaign.

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