One year after Beijing hosted the Summer Games, its impact can be seen in the city’s sporting venues, shiny new infrastructure, and improved air quality, notwithstanding the latest smog. As the world watched, China radiated efficiency, sportsmanship, and pluck, on and off the field.
But any hopes that the Beijing Olympics would spur more political openness, as members of the Olympics movement had claimed, were short-lived. In the run-up, China tightened its grip on domestic criticism and lashed out at the world for “meddling” in Tibet during an ill-fated international torch relay. Since then, there have been more clampdowns.
Far from easing China into a world of human rights and obligations, the Olympics may have had the opposite effect. Its Communist leaders used the reflected glory to tighten their grip and hammer home a message of unflinching national superiority, says Russell Moses, a political analyst in Beijing.
“Beijing made it plain. This wasn’t China coming out to the world. This was the world coming round to China,” he says.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer writes, “A year later, Beijing Olympic legacy remains vague” while Xinhua reports that, “China moving ahead with confidence gained during Olympics.”