Three weeks until I leave for Beijing. Once I get over my ear infection, and budgets, I should begin packing next week. You will be getting daily blogs from me, plus photos from my daily walks and updates event by event at www.runblogrun.com.
Today I am commenting on a story from the Weekend edition of the Financial Times:
Stories are coming up, and recently published in the Financial Times on the security crackdowns in and around Beijing. The FT piece noted that bars are being told to close down, clubs are being closed, and security crackdowns may make planned gatherings virtually impossible.
The LOC forced many of the footwear companies and non Olympic sponsors to virtually cancel all of their press conferences and planned events. As a credentialed media for the past five summer Olympics and for past seven World Championships, I will tell you that most of our access to athletes, stories come from companies like Nike, adidas, ASICS, who find us and insure that we have access to their athletes, their designers, their pr departments.
The LOC will allow mixed zones, which is where athletes come off the track, and if you are lucky, you get a few nice quotes from athletes you know, but in this high pressured, high stakes events, sometimes athletes who have been great with you for years just clam up.
The LOC and Chinese security forces have made it clear that athletes are going to be closely watched in the Athletes Village and that there will be little access to the athletes to their families, agents, and media.
Are there security issues? Of course, and there are legitimate security issues. But, the
level of security could make this Games the safest, but also the most boring. Reported stories of a crack down on visas to China will keep numbers of tourists down, and traffic could make traffic jams in Los Angeles look like the good old days. One bus driver was quoted in Financial Times, after his security check outside of Beijing,
" I understand security, but this is our third security check coming into Beijing today!".
The Olympics is the global stage. Athens was supposed to be an armed camp, but my son, Adam and I still are amazed about how visible, but relaxed the Games security forces were. We did find places to have fun, eat, and relax. While it will be much different in Beijing, I do believe that boring is in the eye of the beholder.
Apparently, again, according to the FT story, the IOC has been advising the Chinese security forces to at least "smile" as they check minions for the fifth or sixth time for the day.
People ask me if I worry about the security in Beijing. That really has not crossed my mind. I realized that the traffic will be challenging, as are all major Games, I realized that it will be hot and smoggy, I also realized that the smog will be worse than most of my other experiences. The truth is that fifteen hours a day is spent in the media center and stadium, watching and writing about track and probably three to four hours a day spent traveling.
Don't fret, dear readers, I do have a feeling, that with US ingenuity, and perhaps the help of certian coaches, agents that certian budding capitalists will be found in Beijing who serve food, beverages and perhaps a good pub dart board to while away the two hours a day we are not sleeping or working.
I do find it refreshing that Starbucks are staying open in Beijing. I may just get a caffeine patch ( but, will it taste like an iced Americano)?