Arts, Culture & Media

China's olympic gamble

One striking thing about these Olympics is that many of the events had many open seats, because the Chinese government kept a close watch on who was able to get tickets and admission, and after protests in Tibet, it tightened visa controls for Western applicants so much that some would-be fans didn't come. All those empty seats were hard on the teams, says this Danish coach. Another aspect that set Beijing apart from other Olympic cities was the smog. This Greek competitor didn't like competing in it. Athens had questions about whether construction would be finished in time for the Games, and that's an issue Beijing never had, as it finished construction way ahead of schedule. Here the issue has been more one of control and security. China ended up granting no protests, despite creating three protest zones. But the average Olympic visitor saw none of that and just appreciated feeling safe. This visitor from Mexico was happy with his experience, and was impressed with all the new, big buildings and boulevards. China's government took a gamble with its heavy security which could've put a damper on Olympic partying, but thought it'd be worth it to prevent the Olympics from veering off schedule or security or general rowdiness. So far, despite the empty seats, the government can convince itself it gambled right.

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