About BTiell Sports Reports

Dr. Bonnie Tiell writes a monthly column for the Tiffin Advertiser Tribune Sports Department (http://www.advertiser-tribune.com/). This blog archives each column and dates back to the 2008 Olympic Academic Experience in Beijing, China. Check out the Blog Archives to read more. Check out info about the TU Olympic Academic Experience at http://www.tuolympics.blogspot.com/ and contact Dr. Tiell at btiell@tiffin.edu

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

July 12, 2008 - TU Olympic plans progressing, slowly but surely

I was on 11th tee at Mohawk Golf and Country Club one beautiful morning when my cell phone rang. A somewhat-frazzled student, Beth, was on the other end, concerned that the letter she received from the NBA headquarters stated she needed a double-entry visa for the Olympics next month.

Beth works for LRMR Marketing in Cleveland, the one owned by LeBron James - hence, the NBA connection. After phoning her back later in the afternoon, I learned everything was straightened out and even though she may have only a small assignment in Beijing as a representative of LeBron's company, her single-entry visa will suffice. (Bring on USA Basketball).

That means only two of the Tiffin University Olympic Academic Experience participants have yet to confirm the Republic of China actually will allow them in their country in a few weeks. One of the participants is Marcia Mackey, my Olympic "fellow," who is a professor at Central Michigan University. Mackey was selected several times as a member of the Women in Sports delegation to the People's Republic of China. She has addressed the Chinese Ministry of Education, is familiar with Beijing Teacher's University, has received grants to research aquatics for women in China and has addressed the Korean Olympic Committee regarding internship programs and advancing opportunities for women in sport.

Her experience with international sport governance in Korea and China makes Mackey a great fit for the Tiffin delegation traveling to Beijing in August. (Bring on USA Swimming).
Mackey is one of the two still without a China visa, although she is working through Perry International in Chicago to secure her documents. The official Beijing Olympic Web site states, "operating on the principles of 'warm service, strict control, simple procedures and fast service' the embassies and consulates will handle your visa application properly."
Ha! Do we have some stories that mirror the widespread reports of China increasingly tightening visa restrictions as the summer Olympics approaches. Even Tiffin resident Chris Zoeller, who is working in Shanghai as part of the Laminate Technology expansion in the Asian market, initially was denied a visa.

Some of the latest Olympic buzz is that Beijing still is a polluted city (can't wait to see yachts racing through football fields of algae) and yet, officials are highly disappointed about the lack of tourism dollars flowing into the country during the pre-Olympic months. Visa problems, a massive earthquake and protests over the government's stronghold over Tibet have done much to discourage foreigners from traveling to the site of the 2008 Summer Games.
Nevertheless, China is an emerging economic and cultural world leader, and witnessing another Summer Olympics in a vibrant international destination is worth the trepidation of dealing with smog, tightened security and government restrictions. Tiffin will be represented in Beijing and will be cheering on our American athletes competing with the best in the world. (Bring on USA Sailing and Volleyball)

Speaking of worlds ... you know it's a small world when you plan to visit a foreign country and discover friends from the area have arranged travel to the same destination at the same time. Chris's parents, Fred and Louise Zoeller, will head to Shanghai in late July and will drive the 660 miles along the beautiful countryside for an abbreviated visit to Beijing ... where they will meet our group.

Chris's sponsor, Chong Zhou ("Joe"), reportedly is a character, but his loyal work with Lam-Tech and his multicultural experience makes him a great friend to have in a foreign land. In fact, I have been given Joe's cell phone number for another emergency contact in China. Our group (or at least my daughter Kimmy and I) have tentative plans on Aug. 10 to meet Joe and the Zoellers at the Quanjude Restaurant near the Asian Olympic Village for a taste of authentic Peking duck before hitting a few more games. (Bring on USA Softball and Chinese cuisine).

Now we are closer to the actual departure date for our group's visit to China, final preparations are in relatively good shape. Continued communication with our interpreter and friend (Jessica) has been very encouraging, and scheduling to meet Tiffin neighbors while traveling abroad has been equally uplifting. The latest draft of the itinerary has been approved by our China hosts and includes wonderful options for tours of the Summer Palace, Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Ming Tombs, the Great Wall, the China Zoo (pandas!), a hot springs bath and a shopping excursion on Wangfujin Street.

Communication also has been promising with Francis Dove-Edwin, a former two-time Olympic sprinter who is scheduled to delight the students with stories of his international experiences with the games as an athlete, coach and president of Sierra Leone's World Olympic Association. (Bring on USA Track & Field).

Participants have been notified where to meet in the Smith terminal of the Detroit Metro Airport to pick up their visas and passports prior to boarding an Air Canada flight Aug. 4, and hotel reservations have been secured in Toronto for the 19-hour layover on the return leg of the trip on Aug. 17. The academic requirements have been published, and students periodically are logging on to complete assignments via the on-line portion of their special topics course in the "Organization and Theory of the Olympic Games." Still, no one holds an Olympic event ticket, and plans are to take advantage of being on site several days prior to the Opening Ceremonies.

The latest news is President and Laura Bush have confirmed their attendance at the opening ceremonies Aug. 8 at China's newest architectural wonder, known as the National "Bird Nest" Stadium in the heart of Beijing. Their announcement is encouraging, because many human rights groups have called for a presidential boycott of the Opening Ceremonies due to the strained relationship between Tibet and China. Ah, where would the Olympics be without a little politics?
No one from the Tiffin delegation holds one of the highly priced tickets for the Cpening Ceremonies, so our group only will be somewhere in the vicinity of the Bird's Nest, basking in the mecca of international spectators with only a birds-eye view of the historic event. I expect to be joined by thousands and thousands of flag-holding patriotic revelers paying homage to their national sport heroes and sharing the same fascination with the opening of the Olympic games. I also am sure we will be joined by nearly 100,000 police, paramilitary troops and the elite Snow Wolf commando unit who will be providing security at the games. (Bring on the Opening Ceremonies).

In my next account, I will provide more of an overview of the participants, the academic requirements and, of course, more interesting developments as we near the start of the XXIV Olympics in Beijing.

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