A blizzard of bad news hit the start of the Winter Olympics last week. Hours before the opening ceremony, a Georgian athlete died in a tragic accident while practicing on the luge track in an incident that drew safety concerns. The unseasonably warm weather has led some to dub these Games the first “Spring Olympics.” Organizers, faced with a lack of snow, refunded general admission tickets to some events this week, translating to $400,000 in lost-ticket revenue. But even as news reports cast light on the Games’ unwanted hurdles, local officials hope to showcase Vancouver during the Olympics and help shepherd along its economic recovery.
Vying cities sent top leaders—including U.S. President Barack Obama and his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva—to stump for the International Olympics Committee (IOC) in Copenhagen Friday. But, in the end, Obama's home city was the first eliminated. "Chicago's marketing muscle clearly was no match for the sentimental sway of Rio," said Milwaukee's Journal-Sentinal in an article accompanied by an image that shows the disappointed faces of Chicagoans. Tokyo was the next city counted out, leaving Madrid and Rio in the running. The Brazilian city was declared the resolute winner, pulling in 66 IOC votes to Madrid's 32.
As the Beijing Olympics draw near, the world is bracing for what promises to be a historic event. China has promoted the games as an international coming-out party under the slogan, "One World, One Dream." Even the opening date is auspicious: August 8, 2008—8-8-08—is a very lucky day in Chinese numerology. Since Beijing won its bid to host the games, however, critics have attacked China's record on issues ranging from human rights to food safety to the environment. Just before the Olympic torch relay, China cracked down on Tibetans protesting the subjugation of their culture. The repression and violence that ensued brought international condemnation and calls for Olympic boycotts. China's environmental degradation, restrictions on free speech, and continued investments in Sudan, Myanmar, and Zimbabwe have drawn criticism as well. In its campaign to win the right to host the Olympics, China pledged to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that the games would remain "open in every aspect." Many believe China is failing to abide by that pledge, but the vehemence of anti-China sentiment abroad has spurred a nationalist backlash within China, and the Chinese government strongly condemns what it considers the politicization of the Olympic Games.
Co-authored by Preeti Bhattacharjee and Carin Zissis
When China won the bid to host the 2008 summer Olympics, it pledged to address environmental concerns, human rights grievances, and restrictive press laws. International Olympics Committee inspectors gave Beijing high marks when they held their first review (Reuters) of the city’s preparations in mid-January.
Jose Moreira has prepared for the Boston Marathon by rising at 6 a.m. every morning to run a 14-mile course on the Minuteman Trail in Somerville. Tomorrow's race will be his fourth marathon. He is focused on two ambitious goals.
One is to finish the race in two and a half hours. The second is to raise $15,000 from sponsors to build a training camp for youths in Marcolino Moura, Brazil, the small mountain village where he was born.
Moreira decided to build the camp after working as a volunteer coach at an orphanage in São Paulo eight years ago. While working there he saw how running built the confidence of youths in his care. He organized a race and awarded the young runners trophies and some ribbons he'd won himself. He also made himself a promise.