Well, only three more days to go here in Beijing. I have to admit that I’m dragging to the finish line. But at least I can see the finish line.
Here are some random news and thoughts from the last week or so:
— All the facilities have been well run. Logistically, organizers couldn’t have done a better job. The bus system is efficient; the main press center coddles journos with free massages, a hair salon, a gym and snacks; the information network at the venues are top notch. There are touch screens that display information in real time for every event. Very cool.
— But it doesn’t seem like that the venues and the Olympics are very fan friendly. The Olympic Green is impressive, but it’s a big square with a lot of concrete and not a lot of shade. That’s a problem when it’s 90-plus degrees with 60 percent humidity. It’s like they modeled the square around the Bird’s Nest after Tiananmen Square. Another complaint from fans: where’s the food? There aren’t a lot of concession stands around the Green. Moreover, the food choice is rather limited. Hot dog on a stick, a box of Chinese food, or McDonald’s. That’s pretty much it.
— What happens when Paralympians and their families arrive in two weeks? The city and the facilities just don’t seem accessible to people with disabilities. I saw one family hold up their grandfather while some one else held the wheelchair when they were going down an escalator. And this was at the Olympic Green subway stop.
— Just because you’re wearing a journalist credential doesn’t give you a free ticket to be disrespectful. When I was at the Bird’s Nest last night, there were three medal ceremonies. It’s only appropriate to stand up when the respective country’s anthem is played. But I saw many in the press area stay in their seats during the anthems. OK, I can understand if you’re on air and have to continue working. But some people were talking on the cell phones.
— Another example why not all journalists deserve a credential. A group of reporters had gathered around a TV that was broadcasting men’s rowing. The camera showed the Cuban team. One guy quipped to his friend/colleague, “They should be good in this sport, right? Since they’ve got so much experience paddling to America.”
— I’m definitely feeling the grind of the last two weeks. I’ve snapped at a couple Olympic volunteers and employees when I didn’t get the answer I wanted. If they’re reading this (which they’re not), I apologize.
— I love the breakfast buffet at the hotel, the Continental. Among the many food choices: scrambled eggs, dumpling soup, egg rolls, fried rice, spaghetti, hard boiled eggs, steamed pork buns, miso soup, sausages, corn on the cob … the list goes on and on
— One more thing about the hotel: they post an employee on every floor, 24 hours a day. They greet you every morning and every night and press the elevator button for you. Basically they keep track of your movements. Big Brother is always watching.
— I saw a kid pee on the grass of the ridiculous CNPC building in the Olympic Green. It was awesome.
— David Hawpe of The Courier-Journal gave me a plug in his column on Wednesday. Thanks for reading, Mr. Hawpe. Loved the column, not just because I was in it.