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 29, 2008 Olympic departure — golden opportunity awaits

Finally, 19 Visas and 19 participants in the Tiffin University Olympic Academic Program are all bound for the Republic of China in a few days. Four short years ago, Athens' challenge to the world was whether the Olympic venues would be constructed in time. In 2008, Beijing's challenge to the world is whether the athletes and spectators will be able to breathe.
Athens pulled off an amazing Olympic experience, and no doubt, China is more than ready to set the world ablaze with its modern take on the Games. China is using the Olympics as a vehicle to showcase the country as an economic world leader and to push past criticisms related to Darfur, Tibet, human rights and censorship.


Venue construction has been impressive in China. Next Friday, Celine Dion will appear as one of performers at the opening ceremonies in the $500 million National Stadium dubbed the "Bird's Nest." The seven-story structure is an architectural wonder of intertwining steel that glows red at night and reaps the benefit of solar energy. Sadly, 10 workers were killed during the four-year construction of the Bird's Nest. The deaths were confirmed by extensive witness accounts, yet denied by the Chinese Communist government.
Adjacent to the Bird Nest is the National Aquatic Center, nicknamed the Water Cube. It is a $200-million bright blue liquid temple constructed of ethereal walls made of translucent plastic (which also glows at night). Photos of the Water Cube resemble plastic bubble filler wrappers that kids like to jump up and down on to pop.

Another unusual venue is the Cultural Media Center nicknamed the "Termite Nest."
Beijing's second Nest has a hollow center, a gravity defying bridge and an atrium which reportedly is specially designed to resist twisting in an earthquake.

Beijing has spent in excess of $24 billion to modernize the Games. The Village will be equipped with plenty of cutting-edge technology including "smart" lighting, solar energy devices and electric busses. Our Tiffin University delegation will submit to infrared inspections and laser finger printing systems before being permitted on an organized tour of the Olympic Village on Aug. 7.

But ultramodern technology is apparent in more than Olympic venues.
Transportation logistics, drug detection (so sorry, Jessica Hardy), timing accuracy systems, and of course, security are all examples of where advanced technology is evident. The latest technology buzz may just be how the Speedo LZR Racer suit with ultrasonically heat-bonded seams has produced more than 45 world swimming records since debuting in February.

Modern technology is evident when considering that Universal NBC is scheduled to broadcast a record 212 hours of Olympic programming per day. When our group is outside the Bird's Nest watching the live activity around the Opening Ceremonies at 8:08 p.m. local Beijing time Aug. 8, most of our friends in Tiffin will just be waking up. Later, when NBC broadcasts tape-delayed coverage of the Opening Ceremonies during prime time in the United States (8 p.m.), we will already be on our way to Chaoyang Park to watch beach volleyball, and it will be Saturday morning.


Then again, we may not be able to get tickets to beach volleyball. There is a concern that high demand in an overpopulated country contributed to the wild stampede when the fourth phase of Olympic ticket sales went public in China a few days ago. There is speculation visitors from the U.S. and other countries will have extremely limited access to events.

Reportedly, the BOCOG has distributed free tickets to school children and government groups to prevent the image of venues appearing empty as many were in Athens. The official Beijing ticket Web site claimed event tickets currently are only available at the Olympic Green North Venue cluster and the Fengtai Sports Center. Those venues host tennis, field hockey, archery and softball.

Lucky for a few of us, softball is one of the primary Olympic events we plan to follow. The U.S. plays preliminary games every day at noon (midnight in the U.S.) beginning Aug. 12, which allows time to hit another venue in the morning or evening. That is, if we can get tickets. At least road cycling, which winds through Beijing on Aug. 9-10, are free events.


In a few days when we arrive in China with our Tiffin University yellow lanyards and American flags, we finally will meet our most gracious host from the Asia-Pacific Experimental School of Beijing Normal University. Arriving several days prior to the Opening Ceremonies, we will exchange currency, scramble for remaining event tickets and visit several of the 6,300 official Olympic shops and sales counters for souvenirs.
While there are great logos for the 2008 Beijing Games, our group probably will avoid buying any merchandise sporting those strange looking Chinese mascots known as the Fuwa, or the "Friendlies" or the pudgy alien cartoon-creatures. We'll also try to steer clear of Purple Bamboo Park and the other locations designated as official protest or demonstration points.
The parks, palaces, tombs and dynasties are cultural symbols of a modern city with a historic past. As we practice our bartering skills at the Silk Market or the Hongquiao Pearl Market, we surely will be reminded that our trip is as much cultural as it is an academic experience in sports management.

Stay tuned

Despite past threats of boycotts and protests, it is time for the world to celebrate the true spirit of Olympism and cast aside any political agendas. No, Iraq won't be represented at the games of the XXIX Olympiad, but Tiffin University will be present and accounted for.

With our departure just days away, I've encouraged the students to check out some great documentaries on Beijing. The Travel Channel is producing Samantha Brown, Passport to China and Bizarre Food (of Asia) with Andrew Zimmern, who raves about the donkey meat and simmering beef balls. I've recommended the students set their DVRs since NBC has posted its broadcast schedule online at . While many have been keeping up with Olympic news at the official 2008 Games website at , other informative sites include and the Discovery Channel's .
It has been 18 months of preparation for the T.U. Olympic Academic Experience in Beijing. Soon we will be in the Olympic Village looking for familiar faces such as Serena Williams, Candace Parker and Kobe Bryant. Along the way will be more familiar faces also ready to experience a golden opportunity of a lifetime - our friends from Tiffin, the Zoeller family.

With the aid of the World Wide Web, stay tuned for remote coverage and front-seat Olympic news from the other side of the world.

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