Originally Posted by Adamc
For me Beijing has been undoubtedly the most spectacular Games to date, but there has been a vaguely disturbing undercurrent to the whole event from the outset.
Just about every aspect of the Games has been manufactured to fit the image China wants to project to the world. Some of it has been fairly innocuous (locals being told how to behave; the girl in the opening ceremony being replaced by someone more photogenic) but much of it has been more distressing (mentally ill people and other 'vagrants' being removed from the city; septegenarians being forced into labour 're-education' for applying to protest against being evicted from their homes, etc). At the height of the torch relay controversies I remember joking to a (Chinese) friend that the Chinese government could easily assemble a rent-a-crowd to follow the torch around and drown out the pro-Tibet protests; it transpired that a few days later when the torch reached Canberra they had done exactly that.
Any Olympic Games is inevitably going to be to some extent a propaganda exercise for the host nation, but the extent to which this has been the case in Beijing has been unparalleled in my lifetime at least. Moscow, LA and Berlin all would have been highly politicised, but I doubt that any of them were as tightly controlled as these Games. That said, I did watch a fair bit of it and in terms of athletic performance it was certainly enjoyable, probably up there with any previous Olympics. The whole spectacle was undeniably compelling but at the same time a little perverse, and I found it difficult to reconcile these impressions.
What he said..
And thats why I rate Sydney and Barcelona ahead of it.. Athens seemed pretty dire, empty stadiums and boiling weather..