These days are really Olympic days in China. This is the 6th day of the game. I am happy to be in the host country, and I have experienced Olympic completely differently from the previous several games.
Time Zone Plays an Important Role
I believe the key reason besides the happiness to host the game is the time zone. For most of the Olympic games, or World Cup, or similar international games, they games are often in Europe and America, and that brings huge challenge for people to watch in real time. World cup is a good example, since everyone needs to watch the game after midnight in China.
This time, the Game is happening in real time – you can see the watch in the venue are in perfect sync with the watch on your hand. This brings huge convenience to audience.
When I go to restaurants, bars, shopping center, even massage places, they have their TV turned to Olympic real-time broadcast, and whenever possible, there will be many people (20 – 50) gather around it, and chear and applause from time to time. This experience is just unique.
Coverage of Chinese Athletes
This time China send the biggest delegate ever, and compete in many games. To have a team of my own country playing in the game is one of the very good reason to pay attention to a specific game.
I just watched the group preliminary volleyball game between China and Japan – China won at least at very close points. Games like this are breath taking since most of the games, the gap is so close and anything can happen. That kind of involvement is actually enjoyable and is a lot of fun.
Closeness to Olympic
I am in Shanghai, and even today, I am thinking whether I need to take one day or two days leave to visit Beijing to watch one game or two. It is close – it is just 2 hours away! Although you are not there, the kind of closeness it brings to people in China is very unique experience.
I am sure after Beijing hosting the Olympic, the spirit of Olympic is closer to people in China, which is about 1/5 of the earth’s population. At least I feel so. Good choice for the IOC to make in 2001
Fake Image in the Opening Ceremony
I’d like to add some note to the recent disclosed opening ceremony “scandal”. First is the big foot print. It turned out that the real time broadcast of the “foot print” is pre-recorded or computer created. The second is about the singer of “Ode to the motherland” lip-synced with the anonymous 7 year old singer behind her.
Ops. I was shocked when I know that. It is like after a athlete perfectly break a world record and then be tested as drug user. We would rather to have a not-so-perfect image than a “artificial” image. Meanwhile, I am not a complete protester for this yet, because whether the opening ceremony is part of the game or is a show is not certain. In film, and in theater, it is acceptable to use both techniques, but in Olympic… Hmmm… not 100% sure. I just feel it is not good.
Sacrifice and Collectivism
Behind the great ceremony, I am sure there are many sacrificers. To be part of the ceremony itself is maybe harder to get the gold medal in Olympic, if you consider the amount of people competing for the idea, the song, or the performance. The “Drum Play” part, for example, is selected from 500 similar ideas submitted throughout the country. They are the lucky one.
The other story is a dancer called Liu Yan. She fell from the top of the “big paper” one week before the show, and hit to the ground from 3 meters high. She almost lost her life. Luckily she is still alive, but she may not be able to standup for the rest of her life. I believe there are many such stories behind the show. There is a gap between people’s perception to this kind of “sacrificers” in western and Chinese culture. Chinese are now still collectivism, and to sacrifice for the good of the nation, the group, or more people is treated as a great thing to do – the same in Japan and other Asia countries. In individualism culture, sacrifice is also a good thing as long as it is because of PERSONAL motivation or to realize one’s personal dream…. I see big gap here. I think I am already very westernized by being exposed to my friends and readers of this blog, but I still see the value of people contributing to something big.
That is also a key difference this ceremony demoed to the world.
Just like the ceremony showed the thousands of years’ history and set the order by Chinese character strokes, there are unique way of doing things in this country. I thinking it is important for the world to realize it to be able to understand China better. At the same time, China needs to improve itself. In the “game of history”, China has been left behind in the last two centuries, and to catch up quickly is the key for China in the 21st century.
Just my 2 cents about what I thinking around Olympic in the last week.