I'm a sap. I admit it. I watched much of the Beijing Olympics and loved it - starting with the utterly amazing opening ceremonies through this evening's closing which had its own flabbergasting moments. In between were several fantastic competitions; incredible team and individual performances.
Dave Nalle's recent article about the suppression of the press and human rights issues in China pointed up just how far away the country is from being an even remotely free society. There are a number of comments in response, including some written by yours truly charging that the International Olympic Committee was at best remiss in awarding the games to Beijing. It has been made clear that China really was not ready in many respects to host this type of high profile event. The cost of doing so was very high. Not just in yuan, but in the heavy cost to the people in ways too numerable to count.
One or more commenters noted that they had not watched any of the Olympics. If one has no interest in such events, then a decision not to be a spectator is of no consequence. I would say that if the reason for such a decision was mainly political, that is a disservice to the American team and other athletes as well - even China's, many of whom proved to be the best at what they do.
At the very least, the Olympics always provide splendid theatre. In that regard, Beijing did not disappoint. Elements of both the opening and closing ceremonies at times defied belief. Literally thousands of performers worked for months, perhaps years to execute dazzlingly precision choreography - much of it seemingly death defying.
With a few notable exceptions the sporting events were carried out without significant problems. The venues, especially the "Bird's Nest" and the "Water Cube", are incredible feats of design and engineering and a wonder to behold. To a man and woman, the Chinese people rightly have a great deal to be proud of.