A Look Back at Beijing 2008

Two days after the Olympics have closed and Der Spiegel is one of many already looking back on Beijing 2008:

There were two worlds in Beijing, one on the inside of the stadium and the other sporting facilities. And one on the outside. And there was a sharp divide between the two.

On the inside, in the so-called Accredited Zones, these Olympic Games were perfect. The images of these perfect games circled the globe, accompanied by postcard pictures of pagodas, terracotta warriors and graceful Chinese girls. Against the story told by this picture book, criticism of the games seemed like little more than sour grapes.

But on the outside, in the city of Beijing and throughout China, the lives of ordinary people went on. A number of changes in those lives have taken place, to be sure, but they are still lives led under the watchful eyes of the government. In this China, those disagreeable to the government are simply removed, staging a protest remains a criminal offense, public celebrations are frowned upon and all roads make wide detours around restricted zones guarded by soldiers — zones that include Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

With these record-breaking Olympics now behind us, it is a time of reckoning and a time to look forward.


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