Olympics gave Chinese exposure and opportunities

October 8, 2008 — by Rahul Thakker and Brian Tsai

For months, people debated whether allowing Beijing to host the 2008 Olympics was a smart move. Many regretted the choice, and harsh criticism still bombards the Chinese government for the way it handled the event. But these naysayers miss the point: The Olympics allowed the Chinese to showcase themselves to the world and instilled a thirst for more cultural and social freedom.

Most critics of China point to human rights violations in Tibet. There is only one problem with this: it is not relevant to the Olympics. This conflict was a domestic issue that did not affect the running of the Games or the experience of the participants and the viewers.

Another notable complaint was the government’s role in training athletes. Through a physical examination program, the government decided which athletes would participate in which sports. Even though these people were forced, sometimes against their will, to represent China at the Games, all were paid for their work. This gave every individual a steady income to support his or her family while training as much as possible.

Many American athletes would appreciate a similar system here. If athletes can’t earn enough money through endorsements or competitions, they are forced to take another job, thus reducing the valuable time they can spend practicing their sport.

As for the opening ceremony, television viewers around the world were upset when it was revealed that the fireworks shown on TV were computer-generated. While this is true, the fireworks at the stadium were real. The need for “fake” fireworks was simply due to concerns over the safety of the news crews. Instead of permitting helicopters to fly among the explosions, Olympic commissioners decided to show the millions of television viewers an animated shot.

Others criticized the fact that the young girl singing during the opening ceremony was lip-syncing. Another girl, with a better voice but deemed “not cute enough,” was put backstage to actually sing. Although not the best choice, it is not as though lip-syncing is something new. High-profile American performers have also been caught lip-syncing, but it has never been so widely reported. A harmless issue like that is no reason to condemn a whole nation and criticize their Olympic

Perhaps the best reason for letting China host the Games is the Chinese people. Throughout the course of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the local Chinese responded overwhelmingly. Scores of people sat mesmerized for hours in front of local TVs, seen broadcasting the Olympics in every store. Tears of joy, pride and relief were visible on every face whenever a Chinese athlete performed well. Many even watched the entire Parade of Nations, waiting until the host country was announced to give a standing ovation. The success of the Olympics brought about such joy and happiness that the Chinese will want more exposure to more expansive experiences, thus helping end a policy of seclusion.

For the Chinese, hosting the Olympics was a completely new experience. The international event gave China a little taste of cultural and social freedom. It also gave the Chinese a chance to show what they are capable of when they work together toward a common goal. With all the forces released during the Olympics, maybe freedom will be a long-term result.