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Archive for the ‘Public expectation’ Category

This post is being written from SW19 where today Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer made history, beautifully.

Nadal and Federer - True Olympians

Nadal and Federer - True Olympians

It is four years until Wimbledon will be an Olympic venue, but today the most famous tennis club in the world played host to a such exhibition of sporting excellence that the Greek Gods themselves would have struggled to keep up. Rarely do two sporting greats meet in the ultimate arena, and both perform to their potential – but today they did. This summer in Beijing most anticipation will be on the clashes between Liu Xiang and Dayron Robles or the three-way of Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay. If any of these confrontations prove to be half as dramatic as the men’s Wimbledon final of 2008, they will go down in Olympic history for it!

This year’s Wimbledon tournament means that there will be added interest in the tennis competition in Beijing. Added local interest will come thanks to the giant-slaying heroics of Zheng Jie, the women’s semi-finalist who defeated three seeds including new world number one Ana Ivanovic before coming up against Williams junior.

But the men’s tournament is likely to attract more international coverage than it might have previously thanks to events in south-west London today. In defeating reigning five-time champion on his favourite surface Rafael Nadal has leap-frogged Roger Federer in many people’s eyes (if not the official rankings, yet) to the position of world number 1. This remarkable feat was sealed in an even more remarkable match, which Nadal won 9-7 in the final set.

This signifies a tectonic shift in men’s tennis – not since 1981 has anyone won the French Open and Wimbledon back to back – and opens up speculation about who will go on to dominate the coming years of the sport. With only one Grand Slam left this year (US Open), and the end of season masters competition (also based in China, in Shanghai) the Beijing Olympics becomes one of the three most high profile events left of 2008. With the place at the top of the men’s tennis tree in more open contention than it has been for five years the Beijing Olympic tennis competition holds more significance than many people would have expected. Let’s just hope that we can expect the kind of final that these athletes produced today.

Olympic Gold - One of the Few Honours Federer is Yet to Win

Olympic Gold - One of the Few Honours Federer is Yet to Win

Both Federer and Nadal are very aware of sporting history, and so will both be among the top players to participate in Beijing. According to the BBC coverage 17 of the top 20 men and 18 of the top 20 women will play at the Olympics. Bob is aware than Andy Roddick will not participate, although this is not a boycott by any means, but a purely sporting decision. And of course the retirement of Justine Henin earlier this year means she will not be present.

Federer Lead the Swiss Olympic Team in 2004

Federer Lead the Swiss Olympic Team in 2004

In 2004 Federer was the flag bearer for the Swiss Olympic team, and he is hoping to fulfil this role again this year (via China Daily).

“It’s my birthday on the day of the opening ceremony, maybe I will carry the flag again for Switzerland. I’d be very honoured.”

On the subject of the Olympics Rafael Nadal to China Daily “The Olympics will be important”, and how right he was!

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Dayron Robles World Record Breaker

Cuba’s Dayron Robles has toppled Liu Xiang’s 110m hurdles world record. The 21-year-old clocked 12.87 seconds, beating Liu’s time by just 0.01 seconds and smashing his own personal best. Liu was not racing.

Check out Robles’ reaction here:

Olympic favourite in more ways than one, Liu Xiang is not only expected to successfully defend his Olympic title, but is one of the most popular athletes in the host country. If the pressure from 1.3 billion people’s expectations was not great enough, Liu now has to contend with a new world record holder. Many Chinese hearts will be beating a little faster when they hear the news this Friday morning…

Liu Xiang Dayron Robles

Much has been said about the pressure Liu will face this year; seeing him win gold in the Bird’s Nest was number one in a poll of the Chinese public’s Olympic dreams. Comparisons have been drawn between Liu and more traditional Chinese heroes.

Despite having started his season well, Liu missed two races this week through disqualification and a slight injury. Meanwhile Robles could not have timed this form better, and will join Usain Bolt as a new favourite come August.

The main events in Beijing certainly look to be hotting up! Let’s hope the athletics can outshine the drugs rumours and protests after all!

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The latest issue of the China Review came out this week, and was predictably packed with Olympic-centric articles. One quote particularly caught Bob’s eye and had to be included here:

“Being pragmatic, people inside and outside China should look past the temporary politics, and celebrate this event as a key moment in the encounter and dialogue between the rest of the world and China. And for the best dialogues, sometimes some uncomfortable things need to be said, and learned.”

It says a lot…

This was taken from a paper by Kelly Brown called Olympic Hurdles, first presented at the University of Greenwich Business School Olympic Legacy Conference in May.

Read/download this Quarter’s China Review here. It also includes articles about the PR dilemma for the CCP surrounding the Games and the measures that Beijingers are going to, to be good hosts.

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A three minute silence was observed today at 2.28pm Beijing Time (6.28 GMT), one week after the terrible earthquake in Sichuan. This was accompanied by three minutes of noise by drivers of cars, ship and trains blasted their horns for three minutes of noise.

Here you can see a CCTV report which includes coverage of the three minutes from across China:

You may have noticed national flags at half-mast in this footage. This is one of the steps taken by the Chinese government to follow the wishes of China’s huge netizen population. CDT tells: “For the first time in PRC’s history, the government has lowered flags to half-mast in honor of civilians instead of national leaders”.

There has also been pressure from within China’s online communities to scale back the Olympic celebrations. It is likely that this democratic voice has been influential in prompting the decision to pause the Olympic torch relay for three days.

West Lake Hangzhou

Yesterday the Olympic torch passed by Hangzhou’s famous West Lake (left), and crowds of thousands showing their support for the earthquake victims.

Beside the Games’ slogans like “One World, One Dream”, they held up banners bearing “One Home, One Concern” and other self-created slogans in support of rescue efforts in Sichuan.”

From Hangzhou the torch is set to head to Shanghai, but it will not be relayed there until Wednesday.

In Shanghai support is being shown in other ways, including a candlelight vigil that has probably finished by the time of posting this.

Image thief also points out how the sombre sentiment in the country has articulated through the television, with non-news international channels suspended and little but quake news coverage on the domestic channels.

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Olympic 110m hurdles champion Liu Xiang has begun is season as he means to continue it in Beijing, with a gold medal.

Liu Xiang Wins Gold in Osaka

(Via Xinhua) Liu said: “I’ve always started my season strongly in Osaka so I hope this will be a good omen.” As Liu knows very well, the rest of China is hoping this is omen comes to fruition in Beijing in August.

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Pressure is rising on the corporate sponsors of the Beijing Olympics. This week campaign group Dream for Darfur released their second school-style report on the activities of the 19 Olympic sponsors – 16 of whome have received a D or a ‘Fail’.

Beijing_Olympic_Sponsors

Campaigners have been demanding that sponsors of the “Genocide Olympics” exercise some corporate social responsibility, and their argument was particularly strengthened when Steven Spielberg stepped down from his association with the Games. This report highlights their responses, with a particular stress on the conflict in Darfur.

The Economist discusses this trend in corporate social responsibility; “As the row over corporate sponsorship of the Beijing Olympics shows, firms are increasingly expected to take a lead in promoting human rights”

Top of the class were Adidas and Kodak. The exec summary is :

• Kodak and Adidas each received a B+ for writing the UN and allowing those letters to be
made public, among other actions. We commend them.
• McDonald’s received a C+ for taking a private action, of which it showed evidence to our
campaign.
• General Electric and The Coca-Cola Company received a D. Neither took action in regard
to bringing security to Darfur; their grades reflect what appeared to be significant concern with
the issue and an effort (unsuccessful) to take an action. Rather than take action about Darfur,
Coca-Cola took aim at the Dream for Darfur campaign.
• Johnson & Johnson, Lenovo, Microsoft, Samsung and Visa received a D-. These
companies received a grade slightly higher than outright failure because they met with our
campaign. Notably, Samsung sent two executives to New York from South Korea for a
meeting with us.
• Nine of the remaining sponsors received Fs for a poor response or none at all. They
include: Anheuser-Busch, Atos Origin, BHP Billiton, Manulife, Panasonic, Staples,
Swatch, and Volkswagen. UPS, although it made a sizable contribution to humanitarian aid in
Darfur, did not advance our goals.

Read more here.

As the economist point out, this is a relatively new trend in demanding responsible behaviour of brands. In many cases these days large corporations are more fearful for their image than governments, and this strategy may prove more fruitful to campaigners than lobbying governments.

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A great story from the Wall Street Journal, via Mary Nicole Nazzaro’s Beijing Olympics Blog about the new role models emerging in Chinese society. The focus is on the switch from the communist role models, of which Lei Feng is the most legendary, to sports stars and internet entrepreneurs, most notably Liu Xiang.

Olympic gold-medalist Liu XiangLei Feng Communist Model Citizen

“Communist heroes were usually idealized, perfect people, and, more often than not, dead.”

Chinese detective writer Qiu Xiaolong‘s book ‘Death of a Red Heroine‘ describes the life (and death) of a model worker in the China of 1990’s economic reforms; a good read for anyone interested. (The book is also a good ‘beginner’s guide to 20th Century Chinese history, with a story.)

“Traditionally in China heroes must be winners first and foremost. That has been the essence of the iconic success of professional basketball player Yao Ming. The 27-year-old National Basketball Association player is treated as a national treasure. Though he wasn’t the first Chinese player to join the NBA, he was the first to dominate in it — showing that Chinese are among the world’s best.”

Bob previously wrote similar when Yao Ming suffered an injury that threatened his Olympic dream.

The main star of the article, and one of the biggest hopes for the Olympics is Liu Xiang. Earlier this year the Chinese public voted their top Olympic dream, to see Liu retain his 110m hurdles gold and there has been great speculation over the pressure Liu is under.

“Mr. Liu, the gold-medal-winning hurdler, is seen as both a hero for the nation who wins gold, and a populist hero who embodies the greater individuality prized by younger Chinese. One important factor: The sport at which he excels wasn’t chosen by the state. Originally a high-jumper, Mr. Liu made an unusual switch into hurdling at age 15, after his original sports school had given up on him.

“He also is admired for the way he conducts himself off the field. Mr. Liu is known as a spunky, everyday kid who exudes a kind of personality that also isn’t handed down by the state. On a victory lap through Hong Kong after his 2004 win, he sang for adoring fans.”

Read and make up your own minds.

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