Starting Friday, the world may start focusing on Olympic athletics, but the host country will never be out of the spotlight. China has blocked the Internet, cracked down on dissidents and -- after three days of blue skies -- Beijing is under another blanket of smog. China’s accused of breaking promises and "tarnishing the legacy of the Games", but are the Olympics a sure path from despotism to democracy?
Seven years ago, the secretary general of the Beijing Olympic Bid Committee said this summer's games would, "Not only promote our economy but also enhance all social conditions, including education, health and human rights." But just four days before the Games will get underway, China’s accused of breaking its promises to clean the air, relax controls on political dissidents and open up to the western media.
- John Hoberman: sports historian
- Daniel Bell: Professor of Political Philosophy, Tsinghua University
- Philip Pan: Former Beijing Bureau Chief for the "Washington Post"; Author
- Michael Webb: Architecture and design writer
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