A nation of 1.3 billion people welcomes the world as it hosts the Beijing Olympics which started on 08/08/08. (Photo Credit: AP) Beaming with national pride, China pulls out a rousing 3 ½ -hour program of pageantry and fireworks to usher in the onset of competitions. It’s an occasion to show its best, after its modern transformation since the communists came to power in 1949.
In regions ravaged by the earthquake in May which killed 70,000 people and rendered close to 5 million people homeless, the people in the countryside and city took time to revel on the glitter of the moment, congregating in villages to watch the spectacular event in TV. About 70 world leaders which include Russia’s Vladimir Putin, France’s Nicholas Sakorzy and Philippines’ Gloria M. Arroyo came to greet Chinese President Hu Jintao. More than 100,000 security personnel were deployed to assure the orderly conduct of the spectacle which was viewed by the largest audience ever: 2.3 billion people worldwide.
Costing about $70 billion, the sporting event has been hounded by political and environmental concerns in spite of government officials’ diplomatic maneuvers and efforts to curb air pollution. Beijing still has the smoggy haze that concerns athletes.
The city is moderately polluted (air pollution index of 94 vs. WHO’s recommended level of <52.) Participants raise environmental concerns and fret over the heat and humidity which may affect their performance in the games.
The world seems not ready to forget China’s poor human rights records. From various places worldwide protests have erupted against China’s domestic repressive policies. Critics and political activists condemn China’s supply of arms to the genocidal regime of Darfur. The Chinese government hasn’t opened a meaningful dialogue with the Dalai Lama to resolve Tibet’s autonomy and desire for self-rule. In a speech which irks Chinese officials, US Pres. George W. Bush said the people of China deserve to enjoy basic liberty, the natural right of very human being.
In spite of government measures to curb pollution, Beijing still has the smoggy haze that concerns athletes. The city is moderately polluted prompting participants to complain over the heat and humidity which may affect their performance in the games. The Olympic organizers are closely monitoring the air safety and weather to determine if competitions need to be rescheduled.
As Beijing Olympics play on, we can’t ignore the positive forces of peace, friendship, understanding and goodwill that propel the holding of the games. Yet, behind the sublime intentions of nations, there are political, social, economic, and environmental concerns which stick out as urgent challenges for the people of the world to tackle.=0=