What will we remember Beijing 2008 for?

In less than 48 hours the Games of the 29th Olympiad will begin in Beijing, China. The Olympics are one of the last remnants of massive world events that have all but stopped due to the political differences of nations. Sport is the only thing that brings all the nations of the world together.

Notwithstanding China’s despotic communist regime and its abhorrent human rights standards, it is still a world event that the entire planet waits for every four years. Beijing has risen up to the task to create some of the most amazing architectural projects in recent times. The center piece is the Bird’s Nest, or the main Olympic stadium. It shall be the centerpiece of the games and a symbol of what China has achieved coming up to the Games.

The New York Times calls is “An Olympic Stadium Worth Remembering”. Designed by the brilliant Swiss architectural duo of Herzon and De Meuron

“The National Stadium reaffirms architecture’s civilizing role in a nation that is struggling to forge a new identity out of a maelstrom of inner conflict”.[link]

No Olympics in recent years have been without controversy, many of them becoming more memorable because of them. Speak of the Seoul Olympics of 1988 and Ben Johnson comes to mind. For most nations sport has become the only way they can prove their “greatness” over other nations. And that pressures athletes to win at all costs. Drugs have become so ingrained into sports that today when one sees a spectacular performance, the first thought that comes to mind is “Is it clean”.

China will use the Olympics to show that it is a world power today, not only diplomatically but also politically. China aims to become the leading medal winning nation, upping the USA which has made it their right since the collapse of the Iron Curtain.

From a nationalistic perspective, India today has no better hopes of winning a medal than it did in 2004 or at 2000 or before. Every medal won at the past few Olympics have been pleasant surprises. To top off our misery, we did not even qualify in hockey, the one game that we seem to have invented and call our national game.

As the Olympics unfurl and we get to see some of the greatest moments in sport, hopefully the two dreaded words drugs and terrorism will not rear its ugly head to take away the glamour of sport.