2008 Olympics: Dragon in the Limelight

By Li, Lin Ting | Harvard International Review, Spring 2005 | Go to article overview

2008 Olympics: Dragon in the Limelight


Li, Lin Ting, Harvard International Review


When Beijing won the bid for the 2008 Olympics in 2001, thousands of Chinese citizens flooded Tiananmen Square in celebration of the momentous event. Unlike most people around the world, the Chinese seem unfazed by the scandals that have recently wreaked havoc on the reputation of the Olympics. There is an estimated 95 percent approval rating from the citizens of Beijing for the 2008 Olympics. To the Chinese people the Olympics are not simply construction contracts, athleticism, or the spirit of the games. For the people, but more importantly for the Chinese government, winning the bid for the 2008 Olympics was an affirmation of China's 30 years of social and economic progress and its new status as a great world power. In the success of the 2008 Olympics Beijing hopes to prove that China is coming of age in the 21st century.

Despite continual criticism by various human rights organizations of widespread human rights abuses in China, which was a factor in China's lost 2000 Olympic bid, Beijing was able to beat out its main competitors, Toronto and Paris, in its bid to host the 2008 Olympics. Recognizing the importance of China's involvement in world affairs and its growing economic prowess, various human rights organizations, some dissidents, and even Taiwan felt that the bid would open up China to the world and, consequently, supported it.

Human Rights Watch, the largest human rights organization in the United States, recognizes China's abysmal human rights record, but at the same time stated that the "2008 Beijing Olympics will provide an opportunity for China to come into compliance with international legal standards that protect human rights." But according to the International Olympic Committee, 2008 was simply time for an Asian country to host the games, and Beijing showed true commitment and enthusiasm for hosting the Olympics.

For the 2008 Olympics, Beijing has focused on three main principles: "Green Games," "High-tech Games," and the "People's Games"--themes that show off China's new environmental attitudes, entrance to modernity, and the continual strength of the Communist Party of China (CPC) as a ruling entity. According to Du Zhanyuan, an official with China's Ministry of Science and Technology, almost 1.3 billion yuan (US$157 million) of government funds and 1.8 billion yuan (US$217 million) from companies have been channeled into 449 science and technology projects in hopes of integrating the latest technological innovations from China and abroad for the 2008 Olympics.

In its efforts to make the 2008 Olympics the "Green Games," China has promised that all Olympic venues and structures will be built according to strict environmental standards.

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