Beijing still getting kick from 2008 Olympics
By Jaime A. FlorCruz
Four years after hosting the 2008 Summer Games, Beijing’s Olympic legacy appears to be a lasting one.
“Beijingers are still steeped in the Olympic spirit,” noted my daughter Michelle, 21, who is visiting Beijing for the summer. She grew up here and saw the city host the sporting showpiece.
As a 17-year-old high school student, she took part in the Olympic torch relay a few days before the Games opened spectacularly in the National Stadium, an iconic structure fashioned after a bird’s nest.
“The sports facilities seem a bit run down now but the space is still being used,” she reported after a recent trip to the Olympic village. “The Bird’s Nest is now a tourist spot and holds sports and entertainment events.
“The Water Cube now has a water park open to the public for a fee,” she added, referring the National Swimming Center designed to look like a blue cube.
Michelle says the Chinese are supportive of London, which will host the 2012 Games this summer.
“They have huge ads promoting the London Olympics,” she said. “They even have a double-decker bus inside the Water Cube and I saw many visitors take pictures beside it.”
With the London Games just one month away, China watchers ask: What legacy did the Olympics leave in Beijing?
“The legacy is bad and good,” opined James McGregor, a senior adviser at communications firm APCO in China, and a long-time resident of Beijing.
“The bad side is that China now has very expensive white elephant facilities to maintain with government money because they can’t quite allow themselves to properly commercialize them.