Monday, August 11, 2008

Yao Greets The Doctor In Hong Kong

I also forgot to mention that Hong Kong International airport is currently fully emblazoned with Beijing 2008 Olympics stuff. In addition to being a major international air gateway to mainland China, The Doctor suspects that this is another subtle way of Beijing asserting its sovereignty over the "Special Administrative Region." In all fairness I think that people in Hong Kong are quite proud and excited that the Olympics are being held in Beijing.

Or should I say that most of the Olympics are being held in Beijing. There are a few events being held outside of the capital, including sailing events in the hopefully now algae-free city of Qingdao, as well as soccer (football) matches around the country. As many of you may know the Doctor is an accomplished Olympic historian, capable of telling you the location of every single Summer & Winter Olympics since their revival in 1896, and will happily rattle them all off to you in chronological order whether you ask him to or not. Anyway it's normal for both of those events to be staged outside of the host city, especially sailing which obviously isn't possible in a landlocked city such as Beijing. For example the same thing happened in Athens in 1996 when the sailing events were held in Savannah. For soccer there are so many matches and the sport is so popular that spreading them out among other cities in the host country only helps increase interest and (of course) sell more tickets. At the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics soccer matches were held as far away as my hometown of Boston at Harvard Stadium.

This year equestrian events will be held in Hong Kong instead of Beijing, a decision supposedly made due to concerns about diseases in China. However, The Doctor suspects that the issue might have something to due with protests by the horses themselves over China's dismal and controversial equine rights record. Although strongly denied by China's official state-run Xinhua news agency, reports of horses being unable to practice Falun Gong or whipped for their views on Tibet are widespread. And that's to say nothing of the issue of free speech. Unlike their counterparts in Hollywood, Chinese horses are strictly forbidden from speaking at all, with or without the use of computer-enhanced effects. Every year thousands of dissident Chinese horses are sent away to "re-education camps" and are never seen again. The Chinese also strongly deny rumors that these camps are merely fronts for glue factories.

Controversy aside, The Doctor does plan on buying some Olympic swag when he and The Future Mrs. Logistics fly back through there in a couple of weeks. The Doctor also hopes that he will once again be personally greeted by Chinese basketball superstar Yao Ming.

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