Olympics Begin Sadly

The Olympics in Beijing started on a very sad note. The father of a former US Olympian was killed at a tourist spot in Beijing on the first day of competition by some homeless guy. I heard someone say on TV that, according to interviews with foreign residents who have lived in China for a few years, the Chinese government had ramped up the nationalism rhetoric leading up to the Olympics, framing it in an “us versus them” context, which could conceivably affect certain individuals to react in certain ways. Of course, anecdotes are unreliable unless backed by hard evidence. A simple Chinese video or news clip would suffice, but there are none forthcoming.

So the news states that it was an act of random violence and there is no reason to disbelieve such reports. Even though the host Chinese government is said to have made extra efforts to provide a safe environment for the Games, no government can patrol every corner of every street in a city the size of Beijing. But much that has been reported prior to the Olympics has focused on the government’s crack down on inconvenient political groups, policing the likes of Darfur supporters or the followers of that most dangerous of threats, the Dalai Lama.

It was indeed a sad way for the Olympics to start.