Beijing deserves pat on back despite issues

Reuben MeesSeveral months ago, I was close to putting the words boycott and Olympics in the same sentence.

I’m glad I didn’t.

Actually, for all my anti-Olympics sentiments before the games, I must admit there were some pretty phenomenal performances this year and I’m rather glad I let myself get sucked into the hype.

Actually, it’s only been three days and I’m starting to have summer games withdrawal. Like many Americans, I was hooked. It was like a bag of Lay’s potato chips. Once you sit down with the bag, you can never eat just one.

I found myself in the chair intending to watch just one or two events and that would inevitably lead to two or three more and eventually announcers were telling us the night’s main event was coming up next.

A quick glance at the clock told us it was already after midnight, but just one more gymnastics competition won’t hurt right? After all it could have been the night All-American girl Shawn Johnson took home her much-deserved gold medal.

And it was because of those shining stars, the Shawn Johnsons, Michael Phelps, all-star hoopsters and the countless other athletes who turned in stunning performances or at least gave their best try, that the United States should never let politics interfere with the Olympics.

But just so we’re all aware of the issues, in the months leading up to the games, the Chinese were pretty heavy-handed in their dealing with what could have been generally peaceful protests in Tibet, where monks and native Tibetans were calling for autonomy from China or at least some degree of self-determination and religious freedom.

I must say I still believe China needs to revisit its stances on human rights and personal freedoms, especially regarding Tibet and the alleged practice of imprisoning and torturing their own citizens for a spiritual practice known as Falun Gong.

And as would be expected when Beijing, on the rare occasion the Olympics provided, flung open its doors to swarms of foreign journalists, those questions were asked. Little information was forthcoming and there were no definitive answers.

Not a surprise.

What was a bit shocking, however, was that despite China’s claims that they would allow protests in designated areas, not a single request was granted.

The Chinese claim the issues the protesters were complaining about were resolved by appropriate agencies.

I think we all know that’s a farce.

When was the last time an angry but peaceful mob got to meet with a low-level bureaucrat and got all their questions answered and everything was hunky-dory? Rare at best I would say.

But despite their shortcomings in those areas and the allegations about falsifying documents for female gymnasts’ ages (an age limit in gymnastics, in my opinion, shouldn’t even be around as no other sports I am aware of enforce such restrictions), the Chinese put on a darn fine show.

Watching the closing ceremonies and seeing the Bird’s Nest explode in an array of fireworks was beyond phenomenal.

And seeing thousands of Chinese performers marching in unison, arranging their multi-colored garb in exotic patterns, bouncing on dual-footed pogo sticks or riding neon-lit unicycles that could only be described as something from the 1982 Disney movie Tron, I couldn’t help but think to myself what an impressive culture the Chinese do live in.

And I must say bravo to the 1.3 billion people who invited the world to their home and put on a spectacular show.

London, and their golden boy, David Beckham, have a lot to live up to in 2012.

Reuben Mees is a staff writer for the Examiner. He can be reached at 592-3060, ext. 118 or via e-mail at