The International Olympic Committee bucked political correctness and gave the 2008 Olympics to a country that has been saddled with an appalling human rights record. Beijing won out over strong contenders Paris and Toronto.
It seems everyone in China made an effort to win the Olympics for 2008. When the Olympic Committee inspectors arrived in February, thousands of migrants scrubbed fences and planted fake flowers along the delegation's route to impress them. Cab drivers were required to have clean cars or have their licenses suspended. The usually filthy public restroom facilities were cleaned up, and music was played to entertain users.
China was determined to show it had changed since its bid to host the 2000 Olympics eight years ago, when stray dogs were beaten to death and the mentally challenged were detained by authorities to "clean up" Beijing. Of course it is now history that the Olympics went to Australia chiefly because of China's human rights record.
Desperate to show a different face to win the Olympics, China has said it will stage beach volleyball on Tiananmen Square if it wins the bid. For now, though, the square is bustling with plain-clothes cops.
Why has China pressed so hard to garner the Olympics for 2008? Perhaps the sleeping giant has a strategy for the future. One cannot help but remember Hitler's 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Though most Americans are educated to think the Games blew up in Hitler's face with the spectacular performance of black American track champion Jesse Owens, this is not quite the case. Scholars of that period acknowledge that hosting the Olympics was of great importance to Germany for the furtherance of Hitler's regime. As Duff Hart-Davis, author of Hitler's Games, relates, the Nazis ensured that Berlin was nicely and benignly turned out, creating the mirage that the Fuhrer's Germany was "a perfectly normal place, in which life went on as pleasantly as in any other European country." Hart-Davis further writes, "That the success of the eleventh Olympiad gave Hitler an enormous boost, both moral and political, nobody could deny."
What will be the state of the world in 2008, and where will China fit into that new world order economically and, most of all, militarily? The great red dragon is only now flexing its muscles, and most of its foreign policy with other nations is in opposition to that of the United States and Britain. Russia and China have formed an alliance with each other, and the words spoken are often weighed against U.S. interests.
Justin Yu, a Chinese journalist working in New York, points out that the regime uses sports to puff itself up before its own people, much as the Eastern-bloc countries used to do. The Olympics, according to Yu, are strictly "a tool for Beijing to use." History may be repeating itself, and perhaps we could find the world in very great turmoil in the last half of this decade with a China viewed far differently than it is now.
Sources: USNews.com; National Review.