Olympics Go Home

Frustrated with the Olympics.

I respectfully request that the Olympics leave China.  Please take the Olympic flame back to Athens. Instead of bringing the joy, prosperity, and openness that was promised, the Games have brought us nothing but headache. Our lives have been made more complicated and wearying, so I make this appeal of behalf of foreigners in China, and not a few Chinese as well: Olympics go home.

It’s not that we don’t like the Olympics and what they stand for. On the contrary, we love pushing the limits of human ability. Athleticism is an egalitarian language that speaks to us all. The pursuit of peace and the universal brotherhood of man/universal sisterhood of women is a wonderful thing.

I look forward to watching Liu Xiang attempt to repeat his Athens performance. I intend to watch Yao Ming dominate the basketball court by being absurdly tall. I may even wander into the street to watch the cyclists go by much, much faster than your average Beijinger.

I promise to be suitably impressed with the engineering of the Bird’s Nest; to be appropriately awed by the self-cleaning, environmentally-friendly panels on the Water Cube. I am most certainly grateful for the renovation of public toilets leading up to the Games. It’s not these Olympics that I have an objection to.

I lodge this complaint on behalf of my fellow man against the other Olympics: the one that is bringing millions of visitors to an already crowded city. The one that has police cracking down on visas and raiding popular clubs. The Olympic Games that are crippling athletes by making them play with injuries and endure grueling training regimens. The Games that have inspired new visa rules that make it impossible to get a long-term multiple-entry visa without returning to your country of origin. The Games that have tourism companies and hotels despairing of a lack of guests. My complaint extends even to the irritatingly cute (and cursed) fuwa mascot dolls, which I see almost everywhere. These Olympics are a complete hassle.  But I do applaud the efforts in sensitivity training for Olympic volunteers: “Some physically disabled are isolated, unsocial and introspective; they usually do not volunteer to contact people. They can be stubborn and controlling; they may be sensitive and struggle with trust issues.”

We’re not looking forward to the restrictions on driving that are supposed to reduce congestion. We’re not looking forward to the Public Security Bureau officers scanning crowds for signs of anything other than benign tourist faces. We’re not looking forward to the inevitable difficulty of getting a taxi; nor to tourists complaining about people pushing onto subways (face it, it’s going to continue) and “that bathroom smell.” Most of all, we’re not looking forward to the self-congratulatory braying of the media about how successful and happy the Beijing Olympic Games are.

So we welcome the spirit of the Olympic Games, where there is one world and one dream. We welcome the athletes seeking merely to compete and be a part of history. We welcome the modernization of Beijing’s facilities and the widespread volunteerism. But to that other side of the Olympics—the crackdowns, restrictions, paranoia, and inconvenience—I say, on behalf of athletes, businessmen, and people who don’t like fuzzy dolls everywhere, “Go home!”