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The Beijing Olympics should be interesting

I've never explicitly posted my thoughts on this subject, but given China's anti-Japan riots this past spring, the recent news items about Chinese restaurants and hospitals excluding Japanese patrons, and the arrogance of Chinese officials at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, I've been wondering whether China is really ready to welcome people from all over the world when Beijing hosts the Olympics in 2008.

At Japundit, JP is having similar reservations, pointing to a China Daily article about Chinese fans and players attacking the Puerto Rican basketball team during a game last Friday:

A Chinese victory at Beijing Capital Gymnasium on Friday was overshadowed by what was arguably Chinese Basketball's most shameful night as the referee abandoned their match against Puerto Rico after a mass brawl broke out on court at the ongoing Stankovic Cup.

Fists, plastic cups, water bottles and even a fan's shoe went flying in during the fracas with China's Yi Jianlian, Tang Zhengdong, Mo Ke and Li Nan right in the middle of it.

...After several minutes of fighting on and off the court, plastic bottles, drinks, and popcorn rained down on the Puerto Rican players, and with three thousand fans chanting abuse the South Americans made their way to the locker room.
If there's a bright side here, it's that China appears to realize that such hostile behavior at the 2008 Olympics would be bad for its international image. Witness the little bits of editorializing sprinkled throughout China Daily's straight-news article:
•   ...Chinese Basketball's most shameful night...

•   The melee, which badly hurt the growing reputation of Chinese basketball...

•   The unreasonable acts also squandered China's sparkling performance...
Yet, as JP notes, last Friday's outburst was not the first time Chinese fans have shown hostility and aggression in response to foreign competitors:
There was a riot in Beijing in 1985 when the soccer national team lost a World Cup qualifier to Hong Kong. The Chinese basketball team and its fans were part of another brawl during a game against Lebanon in Shanghai in 2001. In 2004, fans went on a rampage in Beijing after the national soccer team lost to Japan in the Asian Cup final.
It seems clear China doesn't want to see this sort of behavior at its Olympics. But the strident nationalism it's been promoting at home, unfortunately, encourages it.




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