The 2008 Olympics' Impact on China
From new construction projects to attracting the spotlight, the Olympics will have a lasting effect on China by Lee M. Sands
For the PRC leadership and most Chinese, the July 13, 2001 International Olympic Committee (IOC) announcement that Beijing would host the 2008 Olympic Games marked China's emergence as a major global player. Just as the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and the 1988 Seoul Olympics propelled Japan and South Korea onto the global stage, the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games will be China's "coming out" party—an event that showcases China's maturation into a great economic and, to a lesser extent, political power. As PRC Premier Wen Jiabao noted on April 24 this year, the Beijing Olympics present an opportunity for China to show the world how "democratic, open, civilized, friendly, and harmonious" it is. Quick Glance
After winning its 2001 bid to host the Olympic Games, China launched a massive seven-year effort to prepare for the event. •
The huge inflows of investment to support the Olympics and recreate Beijing have had an important ripple effect on economic growth. •
Though China has experienced some significant hardships this spring, the games will probably be even more important to the country than initially expected. The 2008 Olympics will be among the most expansive ever held, with 16 days of competition from August 8 to 24 in 28 sports inside 37 arenas for 302 gold medals. In addition to Beijing, six other cities will host Olympic events—Hong Kong; Qingdao, Shandong; Qinhuangdao, Hebei; Shanghai; Shenyang, Liaoning; and Tianjin—making the Olympics a national event. China has embraced the basic ideals of the Olympics with its own slogan, "One World, One Dream," and has widely promoted a green and high-tech Olympics. To prepare for the games, China invested nearly $40 billion in infrastructure alone from 2002 to 2006, transformed the cityscape of Beijing, made national stars out of PRC Olympic champions—such as high hurdler Liu Xiang and platform diver Guo Jingjing—and created a great sense of excitement and anticipation among the public. Furthermore, the Olympics have had a significant influence on Beijing's economic development, environment, and the growth of the country's advertising, television, Internet, mobile phone, clean energy, and sports sectors. Building on 30 years of economic reform and opening and on the substantial economic impact of China's 2001 World Trade Organization (WTO) entry, the excitement surrounding the games is pulling many of these sectors onto the international cutting edge. Building a new Beijing
After winning the bid to host the 2008 Olympics, China began a massive seven-year effort to meet IOC's demanding conditions for the games. Having researched earlier Olympic games, in particular the Sydney and Atlanta games, the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG) began the enormous task of creating an infrastructure that could support such a massive sporting event. To integrate the activities of key central government ministries, the Beijing Municipal Government, and BOCOG, the PRC government created a high-level working group directed by then-Executive Vice Premier Li Lanqing and, since March 2008, by Xi Jinping, PRC vice president and number six in the Politburo Standing Committee. As Michael Payne, who served as IOC's top marketer for more than 20 years, wrote in Olympic Turnaround, China recognized that a critical factor in creating a successful Olympics would be careful coordination among IOC, BOCOG, and the host city. China studied the example of the Atlanta games, where coordination between the operating committee and the city government was poor, according to Payne. To ensure better coordination, BOCOG was staffed primarily with Beijing Municipal Government officials and General Administration of Sports experts, and was led by Beijing Party Secretary Liu Qi and then-Mayor (now Vice Premier) Wang Qishan. The...
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