Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Only gold counts: Nationalism and the medal count

More from Colin Hanna '11, who's in Beijing for the Olympics:

China has won 39 gold medals at this Olympics. With an entire week of competition left, China has already won 3 more golds than USA did four years ago, when the Red, White, and Blue topped the medal standings in Athens. Sure, the AP and other news sources may be ranking by total medals, in which the USA maintains a slim lead, but there's no doubt that here in China only gold pays the bills.

Amazing pic after the jump.

Every medal table shown publicly here in Beijing shows China solidly at the top. Chinese athletes are visibly disappointed when they fail to win gold, even if they've given the performance of their lives. There's an aura of pride here that is intoxicating. Last night as the USA played Japan in the women's semifinal soccer match the most flags in the stadium were the red ones with yellow stars. It does not matter who's playing, which event it is, whether it's a gold medal match or a qualifying round, Chinese fans show up to have a great time, share in their collective national glory, and show the rest of the world that in the 21st century, China is not settling for silver and bronze.

These beleaguered vehicles dot the Olympic green