Forget the Coming-out Party Mantra: China Already an Olympic Power

The International Herald Tribune looks at China’s impressive medals sweep so far in the Olympics (including a surprise win in women’s swimming today):

It may not be long before Chinese fans start showing up at Olympic venues carrying brooms and chanting, “So! So! So!” That’s Mandarin for sweep.

After Beijing was awarded the Olympics in 2001, the politburo of Chinese sport created Project 119, modeled on those crackpot seven-year plans the government dreamed up to increase wheat harvests or steel output. The idea was to throw resources into medal-heavy sports like swimming, track, boxing, sailing, shooting, rowing and canoe-kayak.

They didn’t need an abacus. It’s simple arithmetic. Basketball is sexier, sure, but it produces only two gold medals. Rowing, sailing and shooting have 40 golds all by themselves. Let 119 medals bloom!

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