25 January 2008

I can’t help it. I keep thinking of the myriad ways that the Beijing Olympics can go wrong. Alot of these are not meant (very) seriously, it just keeps gnawing at me so I’m gonna vent them.

The Worst Case Scenario, in which all the following happens:

1) Tibetan monks or the FLG self-immolate during the opening ceremonies.

2) Foreign tourists complain about secondhand smoke, “massage” phone calls to their hotel rooms, spitting, lack of queues and price gouging.

3) Domestic tourists complain about even worse price gouging. Indignant domestic visitors get mad when their tickets are revealed to be fakes.

4) Wiseacre tourists pose in front of the Olympics logo re-enacting this picture. Hilarity ensues when Chinese citizens/officials get wind of it.

5) Athletes complain of racial profiling and repressive security measures at the Olympic Village, though in fairness its the Chinese security apparatus trying to do their best.

6) A phalanx of visitors with protest t-shirts are detained.

7) Japanese athletes get harassed.

8) Triathletes succumb to pollution, or controversy erupts over the US and other teams sporting breathing masks.

9) Nasty poor sportsmanship rears its head when Liu Xiang doesn’t win the gold.

10) Afghanistan’s only competing athlete misses his event due to traffic.

11) African athletes get harassed in Sanlitun.

12) Al Qaeda or some other nutjobs pull a Munich.

I imagine I’m not the only one who has imagined nightmare scenarios. Feel free to submit your own in comments.

Mind you, I don’t think any of this will necessarily happen, nor do I wish any of them to happen (I really wanna stress that - I do not want the Olympics to be a disaster). It does seem, however, that several of the smaller (and I think more likely) ones together could make it a decidedly awkward Olympics (smoke, spit, traffic, masks, pointing, staring, etc.)

Of course, if none of it happens, I can’t help but think that this is the best case scenario:

The Beijing Olympics end up as dull and forgettable as the last few Olympics.

Even if nothing goes wrong, everybody has a wonderful time, and China wins the medal count race, I find it hard to believe that the Olympics will be any kind of watershed moment, either for foreign perceptions of China or Chinese perceptions of themselves. Cynical, I know, but I can’t really picture it. Can you?

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