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Olympic predictions

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James Reynolds | 10:16 UK time, Friday, 1 August 2008

Exactly one week to go before the Games begin.

So, it's prediction time. I've come up with four questions which may define whether or not the Games are a triumph for China.

1) Will China win more gold medals than any other country?

One research team from Sheffield Hallam University predicts that it may happen. The team predicts that China will win 46 golds (more than the 32 it won in Athens - the USA came first with 35).

Chinese volleyball team in Athens 2004But China's not so sure. Over the last year or so, I've been to a number of press conferences in which Chinese sporting officials have played down their gold medal expectations - pointing out at tremendous length how weak the Chinese team is in certain sports, and how much better the Americans, the Australians, and the Russians are all round. (It reminds me a bit of the brainy kid at school who always goes around saying how badly he/she'll do at end-of-year exams and then goes on to get all the best marks.)

China's most recent prediction is that it hopes to do better than it did in Athens.

2) Will Liu Xiang win the 110m hurdles?

Liu XiangI wrote recently that if Liu Xiang won the hurdles in Beijing (as he did in Athens) he could probably get the country renamed after him. A gold for Liu in the 110mh matters more to China than a gold in any other event.

This is what Liu's coach recently told a newspaper: "Officials from the State General Administration of Sport once told us that if Liu cannot win another gold medal in Beijing, all of his previous achievements will become meaningless."

So, no pressure then.

The problem for Liu is that he's no longer the world's fastest hurdler. Earlier this season, the Cuban athlete Dayron Robles broke Liu's world record.

And, just to make it even more nerve-wracking for China, Liu's coach has just said that Liu has an ankle injury and that "his current condition isn't good."

3) Will air pollution force some events to be postponed?

The International Olympic Committee says that it'll monitor air quality every day during the Games - and if the air's bad, it'll postpone endurance events.

BeijingChina says that it's confident that its emergency air quality measures will clear the air in time for the Games. We've been testing the air ourselves over the last few weeks. We've found that the levels of airborne particles (PM10) have often been well above the maximum targets set by the World Health Organisation. But, as I write this entry, the sky outside is blue, and the pollution readings are low (helped by rain on Thursday). If the weather stays like this, Olympic events will go ahead as scheduled.

4) Will there be any protests inside Olympic venues?

The Olympic Charter makes it clear that any kind of demonstration inside Olympic areas is banned. The Chinese government plans to enforce this rule to the letter.

But what if someone manages to smuggle a banner into a stadium? Or what if an athlete decides to make a protest?

For China, the Beijing Olympics will be a success - even a triumph - if the answers to these four questions are yes, yes, no, no.

I'm keen to get your predictions...

Comments

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  • 1. At 11:48am on 01 Aug 2008, Cantab wrote:

    I think China might just top the medal tally this year and mostly due to unexpected medals. I doubt we will win the 110m hurdles, which obviously matters a lot to the Chinese people.

    As for protests, I think they will petter out like a storm that has gone too far in land. In China, the vast majority of the population has little taste for criticism and foreign interference, right or wrong. China is a country where people believe in governments and the interest of the majority out weigh the interest of the few. It is the philosophy that gives us resilience, but also the thinking that undermines much creativity.

    In my personal view, I think the environment is the single most daunting challenge China faces. She is a nation not built on world leading engineering or commercial excellence, but a country that relies on agriculture and her land and rivers to feed her bustly population. Without a health land, health care and food / water supply will be threatened and so will stability. Somthing so utterly important to Chinese social cohesion.

    Maybe write about that in a future blog :)

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  • 2. At 12:07pm on 01 Aug 2008, otherchinese wrote:

    The success of the Beijing Olympic Games is defined beyond the four criteria you came up with. Among these four, I think the prediction on the air quality is the most valid one. There is a Chinese saying “????,?????” In terms of “people or ?” part, I think the current measures to cut down the air pollution in Beijing for the games have been exhausting. In terms of air pollution, the “nature or ?” part has a lot to do with the success, the meteorological condition whether it will facilitate disperse the pollution or being stagnant and trap the pollution. Maybe one can manipulate with clouds, but the technology is far from mature.

    It would be a piece of good headline news if some athletes decide to shout “shame on you …” like what Michael More did during his Oscar acceptance speech. But I’d say by doing so, he or she or they just ruin the moment for him/her/them self/ves as well as Chinese and people around the world who dare to want to have a moment of peace.
    In my opinion, the Olympics are not a competition for which country has the most dirty laundries.

    Winning is a good thing. Nothing wrong with people wanting to have the most gold medals. But it seems wrong that “Communist Chinese” want this for some reason, in some people's eyes. That’s perhaps why the officials are downplaying the wish.

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  • 3. At 12:14pm on 01 Aug 2008, otherchinese wrote:

    I want to add that those "Officials from the State General Administration of Sport " who made the comments you described in your blog about Liu Xiang are really obnoxious. They are among the people who are ruining the Olympic games also. But again the success of the game is not defined by these kind of people.

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  • 4. At 12:25pm on 01 Aug 2008, TrickyQuinsRl wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 5. At 12:27pm on 01 Aug 2008, londonlurker wrote:

    1) I don't care; 2) I don't care; 3) Hope not; 4) I don't care.
    As long as the Games won't end up with a sudden halt, I'd consider it a triumph. Too many enemies without and within

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  • 6. At 12:33pm on 01 Aug 2008, D Zhang wrote:

    Hi James, it's good to see that you finally started reporting sometihng related with Olympics and leave the politics aside.

    there are my predictions:
    1) As a Chinese it's not easy to say but I believe that China will be ranked as the 2nd in the medal list. The athletes are under tremondous pressure from the general public which sometimes will have negative impact on their performance.

    2) I do hope that Liu can get the gold medal for the 110m hurdles. I really dont want to put any prediction on that.

    3) The air condition during the Olympics should be fine.

    4) There will be some protests in the Olympic venues, but those protests can only last a matter of seconds since all the Chinese audiance around them would act quickly enough to stop the protests. They won't let anything to ruin the Olympic Games. If you want to protest, three huge parks are waiting for you. Olympics venues are places to enjoy the Games not for those nonsense political protests.

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  • 7. At 12:34pm on 01 Aug 2008, Crossin wrote:

    1) Will China win more gold medals than any other country?

    A: Well, a reasonable expectation is top 3 if things go to plan. Should they top the table, it'll be one for the history books.

    2) Will Liu Xiang win the 110m hurdles?

    A: A lot of pressure is on this guy. I think he will win, he clearly knows how much it matters both personally and to the nation. If he delivers, yeah he can probably rename the country after him, ha... If he loses, well... losing is not an option for him.

    3) Will air pollution force some events to be postponed?

    A: Restrictions are in their full effect, and will most definitely last throughout the game, I don't expect any events getting postponed. Anything other than smooth sailing will attract a lot of cricisms.

    4) Will there be any protests inside Olympic venues?

    A: Probably, although it'll be very unlikely to see the government getting heavy handed on protestors this time. Personally I still believe in the olympic spirit of uniting the world. I strongly support the idea of a cease-fire period during Olympics!

    Respect! Peace out!!

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  • 8. At 12:37pm on 01 Aug 2008, Crossin wrote:

    Oh by the way, nice post James! Although there's still polictics involved (which is fine), I believe Olympics sporting events should remain the main theme of your blog for the coming month. Enjoy the Game! Peace!

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  • 9. At 1:04pm on 01 Aug 2008, snsgenius wrote:

    Whether the Games will be a success or not, one thing is certain (it's my personal opinion) --- an invisible barrier has been erected between the young Chinese and the West.

    China's Me generation surely will remember clearly every controversy revolving around the Games, from the inaccurate reporting on Tibet riots to the endless bickering over uncesored Internet access and to the leak of the opening ceremony footage (to top it all, the serious disruption of the torch realy at Paris).

    I think it's going to take a long, long time for the cloud of mistrust hanging over the minds of China's loyal youth to dissipate.

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  • 10. At 1:13pm on 01 Aug 2008, endyjai wrote:

    1) I still think the US will edge it.

    2) I hope he will, but he's no longer the fastest man in the world, so I don't see why there is so much expectation.

    3) See how the weather feels...

    4) I hope the protesters do not cause any trouble. I'm increasing annoyed with such activist acts like arson, bullying, and blackmail.

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  • 11. At 1:35pm on 01 Aug 2008, SuperCharybdis wrote:

    A bit of a pointless article! What may have been more useful, from a GBR point of view, is to highlight the events in which the potential 46 Chinese Gold medals will be won, particularly if there is a fancied GBR athlete in the same event.

    China will dominate diving, badminton, canoeing and gymnastics and they should prevail in their attempt to beat the US in the overall Gold medal stakes.

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  • 12. At 1:40pm on 01 Aug 2008, zickyyy wrote:

    1: Not important
    2: Best of luck to Liu
    3: Won't but Beijing does need to do more and also needs some luck
    4: Hopefully there will be some muppets who will entertain us

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  • 13. At 1:57pm on 01 Aug 2008, taobo33 wrote:

    1. China can't won more medals than USA but probably very close

    2.LiuXiang might lose 110m hurdle.

    3.No event will be stopped except under terro threat.

    4. there will be protest..without doubt imho

    my 2 cents

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  • 14. At 2:07pm on 01 Aug 2008, Rikey wrote:

    Different anti-China elements could stage spectacular protests during the games.

    Now that the government has alloted three parks for those who wish to stage protests, attempting to do so in wrong places such as inside stadium and so forth does not speak of any extra valour. Rather it speaks of disrespect to the law.

    And such actions do not reflect the success or failure of the game.

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  • 15. At 2:12pm on 01 Aug 2008, Simon_Birkett wrote:

    Dear James. In respect of Question 3, I predict no events will be postponed in Beijing due to poor air quality because so much effort has gone into ensuring 'blue skies' there. To make a fair - developing to developed country - comparison between the air quality in Beijing and that in London please will the BBC measure each of particulate matter (PM10) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) near the olympic stadium in London and in Marylebone Road (which is close to the BBC London office) at similarly busy times of day and compare those with Beijing results and World Health Organisation maximum recommended levels of exposure. You might also check whether air quality laws are being breached currently in either and/or both countries. I think you will be very surprised by the results of your enquiry: absolute, never mind relative, NO2 is worse in London than Beijing and the UK is currently breaking PM10 laws in London (and is expected still to be doing so in 2011)! Let's hope London makes as much effort over the next four years to improve air quality as Beijing has done over the last four. Please don't censor this comment! Best wishes. Simon Birkett, Principal Contact, Campaign for Clean Air in London

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  • 16. At 2:18pm on 01 Aug 2008, changen wrote:

    I think China will arrange third or second place if everything goes well. No. 1 is a mission impossible, in my opinion.

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  • 17. At 3:16pm on 01 Aug 2008, Xlbfan wrote:

    1: It's certainly a storng possibility that China will top the medals table. I think that it will still be close though.

    2: Firstly, the comments by officials that if Liu Xiang doesn't win gold in Beijing "all his previous achievements will become meaningless" is a terrible thing to have said to him.
    It's looking difficult given what his trainer said, but not impossible in my view. Given the remarkable Chinese ability to work through pain, I will say yes, he will win.

    3: The air should be just about ok, but perhaps still marginal. I hope Beijing's air can somehow stay good after the Olympics too.

    4: This is the big question. I don't discount it. Nothing much could stop an athelete determined to make a point, if any of them bother. For ordinary people, they would have to be quite innovative to do so, and moreover to be noticed. But still, so many ordinary Chinese have bought tickets and are very enthusiastic and happy about the Olympics, I thinks it's unlikely.

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  • 18. At 3:31pm on 01 Aug 2008, antimatterbomb wrote:

    1. No. China won't win more gold medals than the US. Or I just don't want it to...too much pressure.

    2. No. Liu Xiang won't win the 110mh gold, coz the competition from Dayron Robles and his injury and...too much pressure. Though I don't think his prev achievements will become meaningless if he cannot win, he's still a pretty good hurdler! So sick of those officals wanting only gold medals!

    3. Hard to say.

    4. There might be protests inside the venues. But whatever the protesters' gonna say ( OK we already know what they r gonna say), trust the Chinese policemen and security guards will be there to protect them from becoming the victims of a little kongfu action excercised by angry Chinese spectators. Oh no no no...it's not a threat, it's an advise.

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  • 19. At 3:32pm on 01 Aug 2008, bookclips wrote:

    James, I just can't wait to see what people have to say on your blog but it does seem to take a long between people sumitting their comments and showing them on your blog. Any chance you may speed things up a bit?

    PS. Watched you swimming on BBC news last night. Your looked great! just your diving skill was a bit naff :-(

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  • 20. At 3:40pm on 01 Aug 2008, Alan wrote:

    Who cares? I will not waste any of my time watching a bunch of drug-enhanced prima donna athletes seek attention and wealth.

    The Olympics used to mean something, but they are as corrupt as any other modern political movement. Money is the Olympic motivator and, as such, the Olympics is no longer meaningful.

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  • 21. At 4:07pm on 01 Aug 2008, ccpbrain wrote:

    1. China will win both the gold and total medal accounts with astonishing margins. It will be declared: from now on, Chinese people are standing up!

    2. Liu will break the world record and beat all competitors.

    3. Air will be crystalline clean. All foreigners will be marveling the achievement of Chinese people and government, under the leadership of CCP.

    4. There will be protests/demonstrations to make a point that our people have total liberty and freedom.

    Too bad in my part of the world electricity will be cut from Monday to guarantee sufficient power supply for the Games. We won't be able to get on internet nor watch the winning and stand-up moment. I still have my SW/MW radio though the still can hear the voice of Chairman Hu.

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  • 22. At 4:09pm on 01 Aug 2008, Kyonko wrote:

    1) Doesn't matter to me. They did their best.
    2) Hopefully... I'm not as hyped as Chinese on this but it'd signify the Chinese place in Tracks and Fields which is their long-time weakness.

    3) Well... Beijing's doing its best. The world shouldn't pick too many bones out from a basket of eggs.
    4) I think ordinary Chinese people would stop that from happening. Military or paramilitary intervention won't be necessary. Look what happened in New York against FLG "demonstrators". Too bad most people in the west can't understand Chinese, or they'd change their point of view on the FLG movement as a whole.

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  • 23. At 4:42pm on 01 Aug 2008, KennethWu wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 24. At 5:12pm on 01 Aug 2008, hughye wrote:

    to be safe for all, i say no to all four questions. the first question, if yes, maybe it sounds too good and it would definitely cause big trouble for the goverment; second, no for now, cause it's safe for all, but actually it may probably be yes; third, no, "to lose face or not to lose" , it's so easy to tell; fourth,of course no, is it the first day u in china?;

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  • 25. At 5:15pm on 01 Aug 2008, four_lions wrote:

    My answers are
    YES YES yes NO

    Yes china may bag most medals
    Yes that guy will win 110 M hrdles. News of injury is an anticipatory bail
    yes some events may get rescheduled because no matter how much powerful teh govt think they are , environment is totally out of their hands. being communists they cant pray either
    NO there will be no protests in olympic venues. China will filter, double filter , the viewers through multiple layers of security. They will crush those independent voices where ever detected

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  • 26. At 5:22pm on 01 Aug 2008, cygeforce wrote:

    Quote: "For China, the Beijing Olympics will be a success - even a triumph - if the answers to these four questions are yes, yes, no, no."

    As a Chinese, I cannot agree with you. We consider the game as successful if everybody enjoys it and gets to know China better through the game.

    We won't consider it as a failure if we cannot win most medals.

    You enjoy a clean air because most of the productions have been moved to developping countries such as China and India. So be tolerant.

    There so many coverages of politics recently in BBC. We won't care about Politics in Olympics as you do.

    Although you are currently in China, you don't seems understand their felling in a meaningful way.

    A suggestion would be getting on with ordinary Chinese people and report what they're doing.

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  • 27. At 6:57pm on 01 Aug 2008, churchgore wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 28. At 7:21pm on 01 Aug 2008, zfarerose wrote:

    Mr. ccpbrain:
    I saw all your comments on this blog. I think you are somehow brainwashed by the foreign media (eg. BBC). What a pity to see an 'angry youth' like you here following the stupid ideas of a biased foreigner (with hostility to countries different from his own).

    As i have spent some time to sign in, i think i should write a little more.

    my predictions:

    1.No
    2.No
    3.hope 'no' (I'm quite interested in marathon)
    4.Maybe yes. I don't care. God bless them.
    Advice: don't write in english and Japanese on their banner. (in case the Chinese around them know some english or Japanese)

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  • 29. At 7:49pm on 01 Aug 2008, thompeg wrote:

    Short response to most recent article (which is as interesting and topical as usual):

    Another thought-provoking article.
    In response to the points raised in it :

    1. If the Chinese win most Gold Medals, it will merely mean that any totalitarian state that takes children away and trains them like soldiers for years within a strict regime......can do anything. We know that already.

    2. I fervently hope that at least one athlete or visitor has the courage to make a visible gesture about human rights, or hold up a photo of His Holiness The Dalai Lama, or show a picture of tanks in Tiananamen Square 20 years ago.

    3. I hope that some events are cancelled , because Beijing is one of the most polluted cities on earth ( even in its present "forcibly" cleansed state---that will be overturned as soon as the Olympics are over). How could the Olympic Committee allow athletes to endure the filth of Beijing?

    4. Let's hurry up and get the saddest and most disliked Olympics in history....
    completely over; and get the Torch back to civilisation.

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  • 30. At 8:26pm on 01 Aug 2008, xbang2003 wrote:

    to be honest, after so many things happened, how many gold medals we will get is not as important as we thought before. it is hard for you to understand, how much we chinese have learn untill now.
    I don't care whether there are more protests because we all know we do have many problems. However, we can only change when we think it is right or good for us.
    by the way, don't worry about the whether which will become cool after 7 Augest

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  • 31. At 8:51pm on 01 Aug 2008, redtibetan wrote:

    China will be close to USA in total medals.

    Liu is now history and i think he may fall down due to his ankle problem and will be the last that will bring HU jintao to tears.

    In regard to protest, there will be protest inside bird nest and other venues no matter how much police or army are present. this is the perfect time to act for Tibetan, falung gong, east turkistan,mongolians, farmers who lost their land, parents of the sichuan earth quake, chinese democratic movement andmany others who suppresed by the communist regime. this is the time or never.

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  • 32. At 9:31pm on 01 Aug 2008, piacere wrote:

    Hello James, I've been following your blogs for a while. Thanks for providing a flatform for people to debate and understand each other's perspective. I liked some of your posts, but some others were unfortunately not of the standard that people would expect. Which is perfectly normal since you've only been in China for a year and half. I wouldn't even compare my understanding of the British Society in my first year here to yours of our country. So well done. I also read from 'The Economist', which I think has been able to provide the most objective coverage on China amongst all UK based publications. I want to say that good journalism is based on careful observation more than making your own judgments. I liked the Economists because they seemed to be able to put in more details and facts in their articles which I'm sure requied a lot of hard work. In the aspect of information collectionm they out perform BBC. I hope you can keep up writing more insightful posts, and hope you have a good time in Beijing.

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  • 33. At 10:00pm on 01 Aug 2008, lzeng99 wrote:

    1,2,3 everyone have and will do their best, and the game will go fine.

    4. People who are determined to disrupt the game with their personal agendas will do so by knowingly breaking chinese laws and disrespecting local and olympic customs with stupid publicity stunts. It is sad b/c it will happen as we Chinese graciously open our door and try our best to be good hosts. But you know what, it doesn't matter what the disruptors do to grab attention, the olympics are not about them and their agendas anyway. I just hope the Chinese authorities will enforce Chinese laws and apply them to the fullest extend without exceptions whether the excuse is olympics or I am special b/c I'm a foreigner/journalist/athlete/guest. Chinese should treat foreigners who break the laws the way Americans do.

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  • 34. At 11:25pm on 01 Aug 2008, AnonymousCalifornian wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 35. At 00:19am on 02 Aug 2008, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    James:

    ~Probably, yes

    ~I have a feeling, Liu Xiang will win the 110m hurdles

    ~Yes, the chance of some events be postponed--is very good...

    ~i hope not!

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  • 36. At 01:55am on 02 Aug 2008, nonfamiliar wrote:

    1. it's possible but not likely. the US team can be beaten in every event they compete. china's team is huge, and they've got the host's advantage, although i think smaller nations will have a bigger share of the medals this time around.

    2. doesn't sound like it, but i'm sure china will have plenty of heroes this games.

    3. i'm sure there will be sufficient clear days for the endurance events. that said, we'll certainly see some soupy days in the beijing sportsbowl before we're done.

    4. the political background to this olympics is one that motivates individual political acts, as we've already seen a thousand times. protests are a certainty. my hope is that no sportsperson gets beaten up, locked up or stripped of their medals as a result. i wonder if that's asking too much?

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  • 37. At 02:51am on 02 Aug 2008, Btwestneast wrote:

    Hello James! Before touching the point, I would like to say: take care when working outdoor for it is the worst part of Beijing's summer and you have some 30 more days to go before the heat and humidity can fade out. Drink more WATER, :-).
    Now my predictions
    1. Whether China will top the table won't make any difference on her international image.
    Reason: I think apart from our floks, there won't be many people really caring about the Games. Majority of them are battling to obtain food, shelter, medicare for their children........
    Those who do have money at their proposals, will think somethings else. Olympics, I am afraid, might be among the last ones.
    Those who don't agree with the way China is being run, will still point their fingers at her.
    Those who have invested there will continue to take advantage of ripping off the "poor" working Chinese people and meanwhile consuming the limited resources, energy, leaving all sorts of waste to her to deal with, which has made China to be accused for having not taken enough measures to bring it under control, although China does directly or indirectly have the responsibility. The products will be sold cheaply in other part of the world. The cheaper the price, the higher the demond on the production, more pollution to China ( a little far, isn't it? ok, hold here)
    All in all, China will still be the same. Once the Games are over, evrything will be back to its previous status, among which the most important one is that the ordinary people's life will go back to normal. They will not have to restrain themselves to please the "state guests" (some of them may be doing so willingly). I feel really sorry for them. Personally, I hope the Games could have finished yesterday then everyone will have a peace of mind.
    2. Refer to above. As a Chinese in blood, I feel shamed for the whole nation, whooooooole nation, one of the best on this earth, if not the very best, tie their pride to win/loss of an athlete, simply a runner. To me, leave along to rename the country, should he ever win, a big hand is enough. China has got many other things to be proud of. Unfortunately there are not so many Chinese having realised them. Again to me, not until then will hosting the Games make much sense in terms of celebrating humanity.
    3. Fully agree with one of James' previous
    entries: Pray for rain and wind. Plus one conditon: and don't do it during the daytime.
    4. Should there be any kind of protest during the Games, I would say this protestors are not mature enough to understand, at least, that this is China, your effort will not yield anything but just make things worse in all senses. China is China. We might see some changes taking place in a few hundred years time and those may not even be the ones certain people are so eager to see if we could ever live that much long. Actually the China's gorvenment should be given some big credits for feeding one thousand three, four or five hundred million people and keep them warm for so many years. Try to vidualise that 10% of this amount of people who have never been really ruled by law spreading all over the world. Don't you appreciate what the gorvenment has done? Remember: China can not be changed or defeated by any foriegn attempts or forces but themselves. Do not even think about it.
    Thank you, James. Drink more water, do not forget.

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  • 38. At 03:05am on 02 Aug 2008, BeijingLondon wrote:

    Like many in China, I have never thought Liu Xiang mattered that much. Of course it'll be good if he wins as China is traditionally weak in track n field, but it's not a matter of utmost importance.

    It's more than safe to say China will end up least the 2nd in the medals tally, with some luck it may top the table. But whatever the result is, the fact is not to be changed that the US is still stronger as they have so many Africans representing it.

    Just expect to see the unexpected! Outsiders just can't imagine how much China has invested in the training of their athletes over the past few years. With the right training and funding, you can turn an ordinary man into a world class hopeful.

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  • 39. At 03:31am on 02 Aug 2008, Fagbunrubber wrote:

    Hi James, I love the blog, and the barrage of complaint you receive is very informative about the Chinese mindset. There are two points previous posters have made that I’d like to take issue with. Firstly, two commentators have suggested that the general public will quickly stop any foreign protests. I’d love to know what form that would take. Supposing two AIDS activists unfurl a banner, will passers-by collectively punch them to the ground and take them to a police station. That’ll look good on TV.

    It has also been said that it is only foreigners who have anything against the games. If you are able to, why not read the heavy criticism of the government in today’s Guardian by the man who designed the stadium?

    Anyway, it’s all shaping up to be a very exciting games, and we shall be watching closely here in Taiwan. People here are very excited about the games, but are also eagerly anticipating any mishaps due to over-blown Chinese nationalism.

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  • 40. At 05:03am on 02 Aug 2008, flibblesan wrote:

    I think if the weather in Beijing stays as it is today (clear blue sky) then there will no problem. It appears that, so far, the organisers have done exactly what they wanted to do with regards to the weather.

    I know China will do very well in the medal tables. Most of the tickets were sold to Chinese people, so they guarantee a huge Chinese presence at events. This will be a huge boost to the Chinese athletes and will make them do even better. I think other countries should be scared when they hear roars of "Go China".

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  • 41. At 06:09am on 02 Aug 2008, GoonerCow wrote:

    Don't think Liu Xiang will win the gold as too much pressure and expectation on him - all the media's fault. Though, still hope he can win.

    Don't think my country will win the medal table and i don't think that's so much important.

    I would rather wish the wheather would get better and air will get clearer. For many chinese, we would rather the olympics and everything will go smooth in these two weeks , no terrorist attacks from the xinjian militant group will happen and take this as an opportunity to let the western people know more about us.

    May the best athletics win!

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  • 42. At 06:09am on 02 Aug 2008, churchgore wrote:

    The West promotes so-called “Internet Freedom” only because Western ideologies dominate the Internet at this time.When the West loses the monopoly of the internet,they will swiftly turn against it – not unlike their change-of-heart to “Free Trade”.

    If the West sincerely wants the Chinese to learn, they can simply drop their strict restrictions on Chinese Visas.So that we Chinese can see and live in the West to learn.We all know that the media and the internet NEVER present the real thing.

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  • 43. At 08:21am on 02 Aug 2008, bluejanebright wrote:

    "For China ,the Beijing olympics will be a success - even a triumph - if the answers to these four questions are yes,yes,no,no"

    will, this sentence hurts the feelings of an ordinary Chinese like me. and i totally disagree with it.

    1,will, we don't mind how many medals will we get as long as our athletes try their best. and we will feel happy for the foreign athletes if they win. however this is an international event.

    2,i shall say good luck to liu and hope he will win. but if he loses, that is fine because this is a competetion, everything is possible.

    3,we do everything we can to prevent that, but august in beijing, it is hard to say, because normally the weather in august beijing is not very good. but i'm sure there will be solutions, and this won't effect a successful game.

    4, if there is protests, i believe they must come from orgnazations financed by some anti-china powers abroad. hope that they can do their job/mission properly and won't effect the athletes and show their respects to the athletes and audiences.

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  • 44. At 08:28am on 02 Aug 2008, Fryan13 wrote:

    The Olympics are not what they used to be but since I love sports I made a special visit to Beijing to check the venue....from afar. It looks great and the athletes and fans are going to have a great time.

    In answer to the questions:

    I don't know if the Chinese will win the medal count. Too many sports to factor in and study. I know nothing about their equestrian team???

    I don't know if Liu Xiang will win the 110 M HH but the pressure on him is ridiculous.

    I don't know if pollution will be bad enough to postpone any events. I was in Beijing over the last 4 days and day 1 was bad, day two it rained, day 3 beautiful and day for started nice but getting smoggy.

    I don't know if anybody will protest but if they do, nobody watching on TV will see it.

    1 last comment, read "Sneaker Wars" great book about Puma and Adidas. Lots of insight on the Olympics and why it is a commercial spectacle today

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  • 45. At 08:52am on 02 Aug 2008, kerrymonroe wrote:

    This will be the biggest Olypics in world history for many reasons, many having nothing to do with China. The world has changes so much in recent years, there are many tensions and flash points on the earth. Many enemies will be face to face. The media is more powerful because of technology yet also more a tool of propagandists.

    One thing that I think is overlooked in these predictions is the real chance of a terrorist act. There are many many very angry and evil people on this earth that will try to use the Olympics as a stage to draw attention to their agendas.

    Plans could well have been laid several years ago. Lets hope not, but something is likely to happen that will surprise us all.

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  • 46. At 08:57am on 02 Aug 2008, kerrymonroe wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 47. At 11:50am on 02 Aug 2008, thisisacryforhelp wrote:


    Question 5) Will this blog be unblocked in China?

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  • 48. At 12:23pm on 02 Aug 2008, thisisacryforhelp wrote:

    Nothing is too predictable here. The answer to my question 5) has now become a yes. Lucky us can now access this page in China.

    Then here comes the question 6), is this unblocking thing going to last even after the Olympics?

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  • 49. At 2:38pm on 02 Aug 2008, wonderfulchinese wrote:

    James.

    Who do you think you are to give the definition of the "triumph"? To chinese, Olympic is a party for our nation and friendly people from all over the world. As long as China win a medal then Chinese have a triumph because we enjoy it.

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  • 50. At 3:53pm on 02 Aug 2008, jefftiger wrote:

    Pollution will likely be horrendous and extremely embarassing for the authorities. Perhaps this will convince the Chinese that opening a new coal-burning power plant a week is a serious error. In the US, at least, viewship of the games will be way down. Increasingly, nobody really cares to watch professional, big-money sports masquerading as an "amateur" events.

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  • 51. At 4:53pm on 02 Aug 2008, churchgore wrote:

    I spend 20 years in China; then 20 years in the US. China actually treats her people BETTER than the West. Chinese people enjoy BETTER freedom of thoughts and freedom of religion. China is MORE open than the West. China is never truly communistic. At the height of the Culture Revolution,youths easily over-threw their commy leaders.Today, Chinese companies negotiate tax with government.I notice many Eastern Europeans have significant different views.Eastern Europe is totally different from China.

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  • 52. At 8:32pm on 02 Aug 2008, Btwestneast wrote:

    Hello James!
    The greatest success of the Games will be every "state guest" leaves China vertically. No complaints on FOOOOD will be bonus.
    Thank you, James

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  • 53. At 03:34am on 03 Aug 2008, bluejeansbj wrote:

    1. probably not, but I don't care

    2. probably not but it does not matter.

    3. don't think so.

    4. don't know

    To post 21:

    I don't know which part of China do you live in. If it's in Beijing, me and my family have not experienced any significant power cut off in the past five years, and of course we can all see if there will be any during the games. If it's outside Beijing, then cutting off power in "your part of the world" wouldn't be of much help to support the Olympics?

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  • 54. At 05:29am on 03 Aug 2008, Ladylumi wrote:

    1) Yes
    2) Good luck for Liu, but Dayron Robles is tough challenge. So, no
    3) No
    4) Yes, but with no consequence

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  • 55. At 10:55am on 03 Aug 2008, Walsh of Wembley wrote:

    I do not predict, I guarantee, that Europe will (theoretically) top the medals table. All this when a Chinese team has 1.3 billion to choose from (minus those too old or young) and the Europeans, half this number.

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  • 56. At 8:08pm on 03 Aug 2008, stephanie11w wrote:

    Hi James,

    I hope this Olympic Game will be a great one because China and its people have put a lot of hard work into it. Mr. Jacques Rogge, the president of IOC, already said that the Olympic village in Beijing is the best he had ever seen. I think it will be great if China ends up winning the gold tally, but in any event it will be a fantastic game and a great opportunity for the world to see China and for ordinary Chinese to interact more with the world - winning the tally is a bonus, definitely not what every Chinese has on his/her mind.

    I want to say something else although this is the prediction post. I do not understand why there is such eagerness for some people to rain on China's parade (almost literally) - it seems to me that some people (yourself included, James, I am afraid) are just waiting for some major disaster to happen and then they will gloat with a typical “told you so.” Frankly, I find this sort of mentality quite petty, almost pathetic. I have been reading your blog for a while now, most of it was well written. But almost from the very beginning, there is something bothersome to me. I couldn’t figure out that that was until a couple of days ago. In every blog entry, there is some sort of judgment – it is often not a conclusion based on open-minded observations, but merely a presentation of selective data to fit some pre-conceived notion about China. I think this is sad.

    I remember talking to a man in Chao Yang Park last August – he was a migrant worker from Sichuan working as a gardener for the Park. When I was talking to him, he was cutting off some extra branches of some thorny bushes. He was not wearing gloves. I asked whether he needed some gloves. He smiled, showed me the calluses on his hands and told me that it didn’t hurt at all. He then thanked me for being concerned. When I commented how the Park would be beautiful by the time the Olympics comes around, he beamed with such pride! And yes, I know; he may not get to sit in any of the sporting venues and enjoy the game personally – which is a shame – but that is not a problem unique to China. I doubt if every labor who built the venues in Athens, Sidney, Atlanta… got to enjoy the fruits of their labor. This is not to say that we should ignore these things. In fact, they should be the topics of constant social discussion and incentives for better legislatures (I was thrilled to hear that since 2007 urban schools in China are now mandated to admit children of the migrant workers), but not only used as so-called evidence to attack during the Olympics.

    I can honestly say that no other country and people had been more serious about an Olympic Game; for this reason alone, China and its people deserve to enjoy it and show everybody else a good time as well.

    Thank you.

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  • 57. At 11:35pm on 03 Aug 2008, tinyFromchina wrote:

    As an Ordinary Chinese, my predictions are:

    1) no
    2) no
    3) no
    4) no

    and i do not think these matter that much to the success of Olympics.

    Olympics is the party of all, the success should be defined as: everyone enjoyed their time during the Olympics in China.

    I am a soccer fan, I wish China Men's soccer team can make to the knock-out round,to me, that ll be a success.

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  • 58. At 02:31am on 04 Aug 2008, Kitty Antonik Wakfer wrote:

    General Comment re. #1: Nationalism - the most prominent form of collectivism these days - is enormously amplified by the Olympics. It is a shame to see so many people take onto themselves pride, shame or guilt for something that they had absolutely no part in producing. For the competing athletes themselves there is some logical reason for such emotions, though for the latter two I'd say not really if they did their very best. But for others to experience these emotions is only because they incorrectly consider themselves intimately connected to a particular athlete - part of some group with the athlete in the main role. This is absolutely contrary to the facts of reality - humans are individuals, there is no joint brain or musculoskeletal system between members of a group, just individuals who choose to cooperate in some activity. But it is the lone athlete who is competing, even in a group event, and those who cheer hir on (whether or not they live in the same country as the athlete) have no real reason to express anything other than happiness or sadness when that athlete wins or loses. Taking pride in wining is nonsensical just as is shame at the losing. And to encourage such emotions is to encourage nationalism with its inherent "we/us vs. they/them" view of the world.

    #2: I have no interest as to which athlete wins any particular event. My enjoyment comes from watching a good performance/skill.

    #3: I expect that there will be some postponements of events due to bad air quality. Unless the Chinese government forced the closing of all industry and forbid internal combustion engines for more than a week within 100 miles of the venues before events begin, I think the air will still be unacceptable on some days in some places.

    #4: Yes, I think there will be some protests inside some venues - some of those who strongly disagree with the Chinese government and who are not citizens will take the risk of communicating this to other attendees, journalists and viewers on TV. But the protests will be short lived, the Chinese government enforcers will use the heavy force that has taken place in the past.

    **Kitty Antonik Wakfer
    Casa Grande AZ USA and Harcourt Park Ontario Canada

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  • 59. At 07:42am on 04 Aug 2008, derek_boom wrote:

    1. Yes - they will. But they will miss the one gold they want most (see under 2).

    2. Aaaah ... alas ... no gold. But Liu Xiang is still a Chinese hero.

    3. Of course not. This is China and everything is in control (but see q 4).

    4. However, not everything and everybody can always be kept "in control", so there will be a few sporadic protests and demonstrations. But they will disappear in an ocean of support, enthusiasm and nationalpride.

    My question: "Will Jacques Rogge declare these Olympic as 'the best ever'?"

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  • 60. At 11:47am on 04 Aug 2008, thisisacryforhelp wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 61. At 5:54pm on 04 Aug 2008, churchgore wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 62. At 11:42pm on 04 Aug 2008, stephanie11w wrote:

    I digressed in my previous response. Here are my predictions:

    1) Will China win more gold medals than any other country?

    A: It will be nice, but China and the Chinese certainly do not depend on that. The Chinese have grown much more confident than that.

    2) Will Liu Xiang win the 110m hurdles?

    A: Mr. Liu will probably win, but he will remain a hero either way. Mr. Liu is admired not only because of his ground breaking victories but also because he overtly expresses his patriotism for the country, the latter will always be there.

    As far as naming a country after him, you cannot be farther from the reality: in China, naming a city/road after someone is not very common - certainly not when they are still alive - and sort of going against the culture. The major exception will be Mr. Sun Zhongshan, the founding father of modern China (he led the revolution in 1911 that established the Republic of China).

    3) Will air pollution force some events to be postponed?

    A: I hope so, but it is not certain the best science to explain and predict weather is still chaos theory.

    4) Will there be any protests inside Olympic venues?

    A: I don't think so. As one of the previous comments mentioned, the world has changed so much. I really wish that the acts of terrorism that we hear almost everyday would just stop everywhere. The planet is facing so much trouble as it is without all the meaningless violence.

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  • 63. At 9:45pm on 05 Aug 2008, Warphan wrote:

    Well, I wonder if China might claim Taiwan's gold medals as its own, to help its own total increase over the US'. Last time around, Taiwan won 3 or 4 gold medals, but had to compete under the name of Chinese Taipei, and was not allowed to compete as Taiwan.

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  • 64. At 01:23am on 06 Aug 2008, tucsonmike wrote:

    I think China will win the most medals. The hometown crowd and the air quality, which the Chinese athletes will be accustomed to. Plus the country backs them in a way Olympic athletes in the United States are not backed.
    I will watch the Olympics, will root for the United States, but expect the home team (China) to win.

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  • 65. At 02:23am on 06 Aug 2008, YourLittlePony wrote:

    It has all become much clearer to me now ...

    I read this blog regularly and I have often been baffled at the strange misinterpretation of Chinese situations/actions/comments by this reporter.

    But I realise now it's because he is a newbie, he hasn't been in China very long at all. Of course he can't be expected to understand various things happening around him. Does he even speak/read Mandarin?

    I'm reminded of an anecdote I once read about an Eastern European reporter on their first trip to Britain. He went into a pub and sat down, expecting waiter service. After getting more and more agitated at the lack of 'service', half an hour later he walked out without having drunk anything and wrote a vitriolic tirade about the inhospitality and rudeness of bar-staff in Britain.

    When in Rome etc ...

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  • 66. At 10:31am on 08 Aug 2008, thisisacryforhelp wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 67. At 02:03am on 14 Aug 2008, stephanie11w wrote:

    Mr. Reynolds:

    Just curious, did you actually take 24 hour measurements of the particulate matters and average them to get you PM10 reading?

    Thanks!

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