Best Olympics ever, but not if you like sailing

Mutant seaweed may sink sailing hopes at Beijing Olympics

They have battled dense smog, strong tides and no wind but now British sailors training for the Beijing Games are contending with mutant seaweed that has invaded the Olympic venue in China.

The bright green algae, described as “thick as a carpet”, is making it impossible for dinghies to navigate the course that will host the Olympic regattas in less than two months.

Wrapping itself around keels, bringing the boats to a standstill, the seaweed is believed by experts to have drifted in from the Yellow Sea to the eastern coastal city on the back of bad weather during the past month.

Apparently China has deployed a rapid-reaction force of skilled engineers to deal with this problem.

Local fishermen are struggling to clear the area, armed only with their nets slung over the side of their small boats.

So what exactly is plan B, if this doesn’t work?

But of course this has nothing to do with China’s ever more serious pollution problem.

The theories about its cause include recent inland flooding caused by typhoons and global warming. Chinese officials deny that its presence in Qingdao — now living up to the Chinese translation of “green island” — is the result of pollution.

But, hey, I guess there’s no problem because China isn’t expecting to win any medals in this area anyway….

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 65 Comments

Thought so. Carry on Raj. Why attempt to explore your prejudice when you’re ‘quite comfortable’ with your own attitudes and sense of balance/complete lack of. It’s obviously something you’ve done some time ago, probably during your student days, and you’ve come out fully formed and ready ‘to talk to others’.

Let’s play dodgeball! Is it psychobabble because it has the word ‘analyze’ in the sentence? Or simply because you refuse to do it?

Look forward to the next time you innocently ‘come across something interesting’ and post on it.

I give up.

June 30, 2008 @ 4:52 am | Comment

@bobby

You are the one who is playing dodge ball. Raj asked you a few simple questions. Why don’t you just answer them?

June 30, 2008 @ 5:34 am | Comment

Why don’t you just answer them?

mor, probably because he can’t – or he doesn’t want to admit to what the answers are. His last response “I give up” is quite telling in that respect.

June 30, 2008 @ 5:45 am | Comment

“(H)e was bleating about the ‘need’ to host the sailing in proximity to Beijing because of possible criticism.” I gave you that possibility in reply to your wondering why the event couldn’t be held somewhere else in a country vast as China, and now you ridicule me?!

Raj, I engage with you courteously, sincerely, and despite your obvious prejudices try to continue reasonably, yet you say I’m “bleating”?! I now find you don’t deserve the benefit of a doubt.

June 30, 2008 @ 6:08 am | Comment

no problem mor. I did not answer them because they seemed to me fairly baseless. raj has again accused me of being enamored by the CCP (since it is surely the only stance available to someone who takes issue with his bias). But I am no such thing.

“If the Chinese officials care so much about the Olympics such that they only make the right calls, maybe you could tell us why they’re so eager to:

*kick out expats/make it harder for them to return to China when they’re often reasonably pro-China and able to interact with foreign visitors better than “offical guides”?
*close down English language publications that tell people what’s fun to do in Beijing?
*write patronising and control-freakish instructions trying to control foreign visitors’ activities?”

I can therefore agree that all of the above are indeed moronic actions. At the same time, (here is the balance part) there is no solid evidence that the selection of Qingdao as an Olympic venue falls into the same category, despite raj’s attempts to present it otherwise. his inane, sarcastic style (“China has deployed a rapid-reaction force of skilled engineers” – they were farmers. “But of course this has nothing to do with China’s ever more serious pollution problem” – it is quite possible that it does not, as highlighted by Scott) and petulant/evasive responses to criticism suggest a man incapable of ever constructing a more nuanced view of China.

As for my own bias, I was careless in misquoting Richard and in my use of language. My sentence should have read “I also agree with Richard and Scott that the authorities care so much for a trouble-free games. Because of this, there are likely compelling reasons why this city was chosen above the alternatives”.

‘Likely’ should be changed to ‘possibly’. I do not know what these compelling reasons are because I am not privy to the consultations between the Chinese government and the IOC (who I assume would be involved in this process, overseeing the ‘stupidity’ of the CCP. Notice Raj has never questioned the intelligence of the IOC). But I would guess at population, solid infrastructure, the fact that Qingdao is an aesthetically pleasing city (do you think the UK government will nominate Hull as its sailing venue?) and perhaps most importantly, its proximity to Beijing.

The fact that Hong Kong was chosen to host the equestrian events is due to risk of disease. Hence the extreme decision to move horse events so far from the capital. Light winds and fog are regrettable, but it would seem not grounds enough for a similar shift for the location of sailing events. Qingdao must meet with IOC standards for acceptable performance conditions, to the best of their predictive powers.

It seems proximity was the deciding factor, and the most likely reason (other than the fact that the Mayor of Qingdao is Hu Jintao’s niece’s brother’s babysitter) that this city was chosen over say Hainan, which no doubt has better sailing conditions. I am fully open to refutation of this claim.

I ‘gave up’ because Raj is never going to care more about the truth than he is about his own smug sense of self. He will admit to bias (because we all have it in the same sense that we all have an asshole) but will not publicly admit that challenging such bias is a crucial component of progressive man.

June 30, 2008 @ 11:09 am | Comment

Hong Kong has great sailing …..

June 30, 2008 @ 1:54 pm | Comment

I gave you that possibility in reply to your wondering why the event couldn’t be held somewhere else in a country vast as China, and now you ridicule me?

Scott, you made yourself look silly by concocting this story about China “had” to hold the sailing near Beijing. Maybe I was unfair to you in how I phrased my point – perhaps you could indicate the same about your position on proximity.

since it is surely the only stance available to someone who takes issue with his bias

Then perhaps you could enlighten us by telling everyone what your bias is.

they were farmers

Wrong – they’re fishermen. But I guess to you fishermen and farmers are the same thing.

Notice Raj has never questioned the intelligence of the IOC

Wrong again. I said quite clearly:

Scott, although I am not sure on the wisdom of choosing such large, polluted cities to hold the Olympics, the IOC had already made that choice – as it had in selecting Beijing

the fact that Qingdao is an aesthetically pleasing city (do you think the UK government will nominate Hull as its sailing venue?)

There are much better places to sale in the UK than Hull. But if it were the only good place for it then they might have done. Aesthetics shouldn’t trump a good competition.

Light winds and fog are regrettable, but it would seem not grounds enough for a similar shift for the location of sailing events.

How could the possibility of a ruined event not be a reason to move it?! Fog and light winds are some of the worst possible conditions competitive sailors can have.

Qingdao must meet with IOC standards for acceptable performance conditions

Like Los Angeles did? Clearly the IOC makes mistakes. And we don’t know under what circumstances it is prepared to overrule the host nation. That could be one reason the IOC has been so feeble in regards to challenging China over its fail to impliment its promises in regards to human rights, media freedom, etc that it made when it won the right to host the Games.

I am fully open to refutation of this claim.

No one is suggesting it wasn’t down to proximity. What is being suggested is that it was a very bad decision.

June 30, 2008 @ 3:00 pm | Comment

“Scott, you made yourself look silly by concocting this story about China “had” to hold the sailing near Beijing.”

and…..

“No one is suggesting it wasn’t down to proximity.”

—-

oh my, i got farmers and fishermen wrong. does it change your slur that they were sending unskilled workers because they cared not a jot for an event in which they are unlikely to win medals?

your nitpicking does not mask your desire to evade your prejudice.

my bias? that which is relevant is mostly against the Chinese as a political entity and the threat they pose/their repeated incompetence. im working on trying to correct it.

takes a thief to catch a thief Raj.

i’ll give you the last tiresome word on the matter…

June 30, 2008 @ 3:26 pm | Comment

Raj, you are a silly ass now trying to cover your ass by claiming I said Beijing “had” to hold the event near Beijing, repetita juvant:

“(W)hy was this place chosen at all?” Proximity to the main venues in Beijing? Yes? If it were,say, hundreds or if in Hainan thousands of miles removed from the main site could you imagine the flotillas of critics and waves of derision? Could you?

“Is there no better area in the whole of China for sailing?” I can’t answer that (well, Hainan does come to mind but see my point above) yet perhaps the present site met all the criteria of the IOC and this algal bloom is a temporary and infrequent occurence gaining more press and untoward criticism than it merits, yes?

And nowhere in the few comments I’d given here before or after did I claim anyone “had” to hold the event near Beijing nor did I concoct a silly story but tried reasonably to answer your progressively silly questioning.

June 30, 2008 @ 4:24 pm | Comment

By bobby #55, “Raj is never going to care more about the truth than he is about his own smug sense of self.”

Surely Raj is not a host here?

June 30, 2008 @ 4:35 pm | Comment

Raj:

hard to be sympathetic when over the last 2 Olympic Games, Great Britain has totalled 2 golds and 2 silvers and 1 bronze in the sailing events. Yawn.

But when compared to performance of your track and field or Swimming teams, I guess you want to fight for it!

June 30, 2008 @ 6:30 pm | Comment

where in Athens you won 1 gold in track, but did good in those high profile events like equestrian and cycling, or Sydney where there were ZERO.

now that Steve Redgrave is retired, feel sorry for you guys. But bring on badminton!

June 30, 2008 @ 6:43 pm | Comment

bobby there is a difference between “having” to do something (i.e. you have no/little choice) and deciding to do something. I would have thought even you knew that.

does it change your slur that they were sending unskilled workers because they cared not a jot for an event in which they are unlikely to win medals?

It’s hardly a slur to suggest that China may be so foxed by this problem that it is using unskilled workers. That’s why I asked what Plan B was if it didn’t work.

your desire to evade your prejudice

Yeah, my “prejudice” in favour of democracy and human rights. I’m just soooo biased in that respect.

nowhere in the few comments I’d given here before or after did I claim anyone “had” to hold the event near Beijing

You implied that Beijing chose this arena because to do so anywhere further away would have left China open to unbareable ridicule/criticism. You may not have used the word “had”, but to me at least you seemed to be saying that Beijing had little choice in the matter.

If you did not mean to say that then I have read you wrong, but certainly you have provided no other explanation.

bigdog, China has hardly won a majority of its gold medals in Athletics or Swimming over the last couple of Olympics either. Every country has its strong areas – if you start to trivialise one country’s successes then many others may also be open to ridicule too. I’d have to say that I consider sailing a lot more of an Olympic sport than table tennis.

now that Steve Redgrave is retired, feel sorry for you guys

He retired in 2000. Yet at 2004 we had a big haul, so no worries there.

June 30, 2008 @ 8:48 pm | Comment

“And nowhere in the few comments I’d given here before or after did I claim anyone “had” to hold the event near Beijing nor did I concoct a silly story but tried reasonably to answer your progressively silly questioning.”

Like in the other thread you “reasonably” answered my questions. Well, yes, you tried.

July 4, 2008 @ 7:02 am | Comment

RE: selection of Qingdao as host city of sailing competition

I lived in Qingdao for several years. It is a pleasant city with a spacious, pedestrian-friendly downtown and boardwalk and boasts mild weather for its northerly location. I do not know if Qingdao is more prone to algae blooms than other coastal cities, but it would not surprise me. A Korean oceanographer doing research at Qingdao’s Ocean University told me that the waters of the Yellow Sea are especially polluted because they are surrounded on three sides by industrialized coastline with many large cities dumping all kinds of refuse, a lot of which remains trapped in the sea. I enjoyed many walks along the sandy beaches and sculpture-dotted boardwalk but never took a swim in the murky water.

July 11, 2008 @ 1:34 am | Comment

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