The Olympics begin in August, and they're in China, so, you know, it should be a rather fascinating world event, if you're into fascinating world events. And we are proud to welcome back our Deadspin Beijing Bureau, our own trio of correspondents living in China and reporting on everything they see, Olympics related and otherwise.
Deadspin's Beijing Bureau is manned by three college buddies who "studied" abroad together in Shanghai — one of whom is from Iowa — and now shadily classify themselves as freelance writers. The country has foolishly allowed them to return, and while they work and travel around China during the next year they'll be checking in periodically with dispatches about the Middle Kingdom's utter ridiculousness, hopefully preparing you all for the epic spectacle that will be the Beijing Olympics. When the Games come around they will be there — without tickets and with minimal language skills — ready to document world history for Deadspin. Due to healthy fear of deportation (and an outside chance of imprisonment), the Bureau must remain anonymous. Today, they give us a rundown of Olympic co-host cities...after the jump
The Olympics are less than a month away and despite pouring billions of dollars into infrastructure and security Beijing isn’t taking any chances. The government is offering rewards of up to $70k USD for credible terrorism leads and reportedly stationing anti-aircraft missiles outside some Olympic venues. Beijing’s air is still a bit of an issue and the city is about to enter the shit-I-need-to-cram-for-the-final phase of its air cleanup plan. In a week factories around the city will close and new traffic regulations will allow only odd or even numbered license plates on the road on a given day and blah, blah, blah. We are sooo tired of hearing about this Beijing place (OVERRATED!). Sure, nearly all of the Games’ events will take place in the capital, but six other Chinese cities will also have them some Olympics this summer. Some are massive, world cities (Shanghai, Hong Kong) and others are massive, rather obscure cities (Shenyang, Qinhuangdao, Tianjin). So, without further adieu, here are your 2008 Olympic co-hosts.
City: Hong Kong
Event: Equestrian (!)
Population: 6.96 million
Hong Kong has been a Special Administrative Region of China since its handover from the British in 1997 and will retain self-governance until 2047. HK will host the Olympics’ equestrian events, namely Dressage, Jumping & the always dramatic Eventing. If you were wondering, below is BOCOG’s description of “Dressage” (pronounced dress-ahhzh):
Dressage is often called "equestrian ballet". The horse is required to perform set movements, or freestyle to music, demonstrating close partnership with its rider. The scores are evaluated by a panel of judges based on the precision and elegance of the movements
We’re not sure how we feel about horses as Olympians but at least we know what Dee Mirich will be watching…
Translation: Lush Island
Population: 3.2 million (8 million metro)
The beer connoisseurs and drunks among you might recognize this city’s eponymous export: Tsing Tao beer, a crisp, refreshing leftover of the city’s former German occupants. Recently, Qingdao has had some algae issues – reportedly unrelated to alcohol. It seems like they have it under control now, but a week ago the bay was so overcome by slimy green blooms that diminutive crime-fighter Weng Weng wouldn’t have needed a rocket pack to cross it, he would’ve just scampered right over.
Translation: City North of the Shen River
Event: Soccer prelims
Population: 4.5 million (7.3 million metro)
Shenyang is the capital of Liaoning Province, a massive industrial city and the largest in China’s Dongbei (Northeast) region… sort of like the Pittsburgh of Northeast China’s rustbelt region. The Bureau has spent some time in this Soviet-style ‘burg and found it to be much more pleasant than its rather grimy reputation would lead you to believe. Shenyangers are notoriously rabid soccer fans and their new Olympic Stadium will host preliminary soccer games.
Translation: Yellow Emperor Island
Population: 2.8 million
This breezy seaside hamlet with a population a shade below 3 million strikes the Bureau as an odd choice for a co-host city, but, hey, it is the only place where the Great Wall reaches the ocean. Qinhuangdao is probably most famous for neighboring Beidaihe, a sort of seaside Camp David for party leaders of the past, though the current brass has kept away. The city is now, we’ve been told, a haven for vacationing and, ahem, working Russians.
Translation: Heavenly Ford
Population: 5.2 million (10.24 million metro)
About 200km east of Beijing, Tianjin is – depending on whom you ask – the 3rd largest city in China and one of four cities directly controlled by the central government (Beijing, Shanghai, & Chongqing are the others). That said, Tianjin’s development has lagged behind the other megacities of China and by most accounts is a bit of a hole… but a charming hole.
Translation: Above the Sea
Population: 14.5 million (like 20 million)
Known at different times as The Paris of the East, The Pearl of the Orient, and The Whore of Asia, Shanghai is China’s largest city and a paradigm of globalization. It shares a cute rivalry with Beijing and locals from both cities love to talk shit. Shanghai is looking to steal back the international spotlight from Beijing in 2010 when it hosts the World Expo.
That’s it for now, we’ll be back soon with a breakdown of potential US – China medal match-ups. Oh, and if you hear about any developing terrorist plots, do let us know; we could use the cash.
You can contact Deadspin’s Beijing Bureau at firstname.lastname@example.org