I came to Beijing several weeks before the Olympics, knowing that when I return, I will not be in China. I will be in Olympicland.
To go to an Olympics as a journalist is not to go to a foreign country, but to live, work, and sleep in a world hermetically sealed by chain-link and barbed wire and run entirely by McDonald’s and Cola-Cola.
It is a netherworld connected to its host nation only by the language of the volunteers and the currency needed to buy Big Macs. This is as it should be. The Olympic venues must be secure, though it leads to keeping everything distinctive about the host nation out of the security cordon. Had I come to China only for the Olympics, I never would have been in China.
The goal of the blog, as stated in the first entry on July 21:
Through our stories and blogs, we hope to give you a compelling and unvarnished look at the world of the Olympics and Beijing’s astonishing effort to make them perfect.
In covering three Olympic Games from 2002 to 2006, I have begun to see this cultural phenomenon from the inside – removed from the edits, tape delays, and sweeping string accompaniments of NBC. The Olympics can be infuriating, heartbreaking, and breathtaking, often within the space of a single minute.
But they are always interesting. We hope you will think so, too.
I can get behind that.