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….

______________

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

[...] Raj wrote an interesting post today on Best Olympics ever, but not if you like sailing. Here’s a quick excerpt: [...]

June 28, 2008 @ 11:17 am | Pingback

Come on, Raj – BOCOG has always said they wanted a “Green Olympics.”

June 28, 2008 @ 11:51 am | Comment

Wow, that last line is a bit harsh.

June 28, 2008 @ 12:13 pm | Comment

Raj, harsh??

June 28, 2008 @ 12:20 pm | Comment

Richard, yes – a green Olympics indeed. Much like that rural official who painted a hillside green!

Mary, I’m sure that the Olympics organisers do want to rectify this. But with a lot of things I wonder how much they actually thought things through first. Had sailing et al been a major Chinese sport I wonder if the planning stage been more detailed – the response seems rather panicky.

But this could just be a sign of general complacency and chance rather than actual bias. Either way it isn’t great, and I hope that it doesn’t just stop at volunteers clearing it up.

June 28, 2008 @ 2:51 pm | Comment

@raj

Hi Raj

Is this post not a little bit “Schadenfreude”?

June 28, 2008 @ 3:05 pm | Comment

*snork*!

June 28, 2008 @ 3:49 pm | Comment

@ eco

Is this post not a little bit “Schadenfreude”?

Given the number of gold medals Britain won at the last Olympics in these areas, and the number we hope to pick up this year, anything that would upset the usual performance of the boats is not something I would be happy about.

But I guess you knew that already….

June 28, 2008 @ 4:31 pm | Comment

Green algae is a visible problem but not as bad as it looks. The yachties are saying the fog and lack of wind are actually much greater problems at Qingdao.

June 28, 2008 @ 9:02 pm | Comment

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

But that is exactly why help from algae is extremely important for China.

June 28, 2008 @ 10:10 pm | Comment

@ mick

The yachties are saying the fog and lack of wind are actually much greater problems at Qingdao.

Joy. Maybe they should just draw lots to see who gets the medals…

June 28, 2008 @ 11:09 pm | Comment

@raj

Hhhmmm… Maybe it is a clever Chinese biological conspiracy against the favorite temas…

June 29, 2008 @ 5:03 am | Comment

Hhhmmm… Maybe it is a clever Chinese biological conspiracy against the favorite temas…

Or it could just be a result of traditional thinking by the Chinese authorities – or maybe it would be better to say the traditional absence of thinking.

I’m glad you find it amusing that athletes who spend four years training may have their medal chances decided by pure chance rather than skill and tactics.

June 29, 2008 @ 6:19 am | Comment

Typical shoddy journalism by the British press in general and China bashing hysteria by the Times in particular. It is an explosive expansion of green algae (seaweed is actually an algae) caused by excess nitrogen and/or phosphorous in the local water due to runoff from heavy rains and/or pollutants. A common event particularly during the summer season. That doesn’t sell stories however… they must be mutants I say, MUTANTS!

June 29, 2008 @ 8:45 am | Comment

Do Mutant Seaweed have special powers? Like summoning storm, shooting optic energy beam, telepathy or have Adamantium-laced skeletal structure with retractable claws, expertise in martial arts?

June 29, 2008 @ 9:40 am | Comment

There is no mystery as to where Bad China’s mutant algea came from.
It came from all of the phosphorous and nitrogen rich waste dumped from farms and factories in China into rivers and the oceans.

This olympics is going to go down in the history books. The London games will be a sleeper in comparison.

Bad, dripping with green algea China.

June 29, 2008 @ 2:04 pm | Comment

Yes, it can be fun to bait our Chinese friends here but fair play compels us to recognize the algea blooms in the Gulf of Mexico and Gulf of California mostly caused by agricultural run-off from the USA, e.g. http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/state/20050309-1317-wst-gulfofcalifornia-pollution.html
and more diligent study will give more examples worldwide, something to occupy those dedicated baiters with much, much too much time on their hands.

June 29, 2008 @ 3:32 pm | Comment

Spot on Scott. Raj it is very easy to sense your initial delight any time you discover a critical article about China. You have intelligence enough to almost cover your gloating tracks:

“Given the number of gold medals Britain won at the last Olympics in these areas, and the number we hope to pick up this year, anything that would upset the usual performance of the boats is not something I would be happy about.”

Who gives a fish’s tit about how many medals the UK wins? It is doubtful you do since such jingoistic pride and provincialism is the sole preserve of the Chinese, right?

June 29, 2008 @ 4:19 pm | Comment

Yes, it can be fun to bait our Chinese friends here but fair play compels us to recognize the algea blooms in the Gulf of Mexico and Gulf of California mostly caused by agricultural run-off from the USA, e.g.

I love this response. I don’t see why a sense of ‘fair play’ would result in this. The issue is not that there is an algae bloom but WHERE THE BLOOM OCCURRED as well as the (in)sanity of clearing it with fishing nets.

A less impoverished sense of ‘fair play’ — Scott’s here amounts to little more than imagining that ‘fair play’ means saying something bad about the US in return, like schoolchildren shouting NYAH NYAH — would have found a similar bummer in a US Olympic venue, with similarly backward cleanup systems.

But a truly sophisticated sense of ‘fair play’ would note two things. First, there is no ‘fair play’ issue here. The Chinese government has trumpeted the Olympics and this is what they get. That’s normal when institutions get bombastic. No doubt the satisfaction at someone getting comeuppance is enhanced when it is a criminal and authoritarian government getting it, but comeuppance is always enjoyable.

Finally, ‘fair play’ compels me to note that the idea of ‘fair play’ here only runs in one direction: when someone criticizes the government of China ‘fair play’ advocates rush to its defense by citing something negative about the west. The trope does not run in the other direction, however: western criminality and bombast is never defended by reference to China. The colonialist double standard is very clear here: China needs defending, the west does not.

“Fair play” is not. Stop it, please.

Michael

June 29, 2008 @ 5:02 pm | Comment

Please, it’s only fair play to show that despite the lurid description by the Times of “mutant seaweed” this is an algal bloom that is common off several continents where large amounts of agricultural run-off meet gulf waters, incidentally the Gulf of California and Gulf of Mexico to name two other spots. To mutate that phenomenon into yet another singular criticism of China and the Olympiad is perverse, Michael. Stop it, please.

June 29, 2008 @ 5:14 pm | Comment

I agree that sometimes happens Michael, but I don’t think so in this case. Scott is trying to point out that this is a reasonably common occurrence, and hardly evidence of Governmental malfeasance on the part of the Chinese. It is an attempt to balance the unpleasantness of Raj’s ‘look what those Chinese have done now’ rather than an attempt to balance the incident of the algae infestation.

And the reason for ideas of ‘fair play’ running only in one direction is quite obvious. The West/USA is a benchmark for developing nations, and it commonly celebrated this fact (numerous recurring ‘beacon of the world’ references, however dimly that beacon now shines). This perceived superiority is exactly the reason we do not compare ourselves to the Chinese.

June 29, 2008 @ 5:32 pm | Comment

@ Jing

Typical shoddy journalism by the British press in general and China bashing hysteria by the Times in particular

Then how come the Australian press has followed up on this too?

http://tinyurl.com/58hujd

It is an explosive expansion of green algae

You know this is not a different strain because you’ve taken some back to the lab to test, have you?

A common event particularly during the summer season.

If that’s the case then clearly the authorities should have guessed this might happen.

Scott, when the US has hosted the Olympics has it decided to hold the sailing events in such areas as you mention? Because if it hasn’t then the point you make is not relevant. As Michael says, the issue is not whether a country has problems with algae but how it plans its events.

@Bobby

Who gives a fish’s tit about how many medals the UK wins? It is doubtful you do since such jingoistic pride and provincialism is the sole preserve of the Chinese, right?

Your childish, exaggerated statement is highly amusing. To allege that if one cares at all about Olympic performances that somehow makes them extreme nationalists or some such is ridiculous. People from all over the world tune in to support their country. Sure winning isn’t everything, but it’s still nice to win on a number of occasions – and they would care if sports that their country does well in are adversely affected by poor planning and thinking by the hosts.

If this were recreated on the athletics field it would be like having patches of glue at certain parts on the race track that shift around. If you can tell me with a straight face that there would not be world-wide anger over that then you are deluded – otherwise you are lying. People should not worry about losing if the best man/woman wins, but if it’s down to pure chance then everyone has a right to be outraged.

June 29, 2008 @ 5:33 pm | Comment

Yes but Raj, your mock ‘outrage’ is purely because this is an event where Britain has medal hopes. This is your sophistic pretense at care due to personal interest, when really it is fairly obvious your choosing of this article is because it is yet more egg on China’s face. But keep up the delusion that your judgment is balanced.

“But, hey, I guess there’s no problem because China isn’t expecting to win any medals in this area anyway…” This is the narrow provincialism I refer to, echoed in your claims of interest due to British chances of success.

June 29, 2008 @ 5:54 pm | Comment

Your interest in the article that is.

June 29, 2008 @ 6:02 pm | Comment

when really it is fairly obvious your choosing of this article is because it is yet more egg on China’s face

China puts the egg on its own face. I couldn’t care less about China’s image, only how its actions/the actions of its government affect other people. I’m sure you can’t accept that because it’s easier to demonise people who raise problems concerning China than admit the Chinese authorities fuck up down to their own stupidity.

This is the narrow provincialism I refer to

Sure, because China wouldn’t have done things differently if sailing was a key Chinese Olympic sport.

June 29, 2008 @ 6:37 pm | Comment

I’m British. As you well know, it is in fact far easier for us to “admit the Chinese authorities fuck up down to their own stupidity” than it is to “demonise” those caring souls such as yourself who “raise problems concerning China”.

This is our default bias, and something I would encourage you to question.

It takes a thief to catch a thief.

June 29, 2008 @ 6:55 pm | Comment

bobby, your nationality is irrelevant. Richard is attacked by people who claim to be American all the time for his comments on China. I have come across Britons who are raving fans of the CCP and say they would prefer “caring one party autocracy” under them than our current democratic system.

Whether or not you believe that too, that doesn’t stop you being someone who foolishly judges people on whether they raise good or negative points about a country he (you) has interest in/links to. Just because you may not care about what happens at the Olympics does not mean that I cannot care, nor that I cannot phrase my views as I have.

And, yes, as a Briton I am more likely to highlight problems when they occur, rather than sweep them under the carpet in the mistaken belief that is somehow being a “friend” of China.

June 29, 2008 @ 7:18 pm | Comment

“Scott, when the US has hosted the Olympics has it decided to hold the sailing events in such areas as you mention? Because if it hasn’t then the point you make is not relevant.”

Raj, no, I honestly can’t recall the circumstances of the sailing events in the US Olympiads. I can recall that when the US held the Olympiad in Los Angeles there was great concern about smog and real complaints about loud police roaming the hallways of the Olympic Village at night, as when Mexico City held the Olympiad the concern was altitude which would effect the health and performance of the atheletes but algea? No, I can’t recall so.

Your logic about relevancy and questioning how a country (in name a city host but in actuality the Olympiad needs national assistance) plans Olympic events to foresee every possible contingency seems… well, what more can I say? You see in “mutant seaweed” but one more example of Chinese a) perfidy or b) incompetence, take your pick. You see, Raj, I believe that with all the detailed planing, care and face invested by the Chinese in this Olympiad (er, could you agree with the sentence at least up to this point?) the algal bloom was unexpected and the authorities are rushing to clear it up as best as technology allows despite the Times and the informed opinions of habitues at The Peking Duck.

June 29, 2008 @ 7:20 pm | Comment

For the record, I can’t disagree with Scott. I think China, which is trying very hard to look good, is quite upset about this. I also doubt that fishermen with nets will be the sole mechanism employed to deal with the problem if it persists. Green algae has wreaked havoc in many places. Could this outbreak be solely due to Chinese environmental neglect? Maybe, but I don’t know, and neither does Nanhe. To say that China isn’t trying hard enough to solve the problem because it doesn’t expect to win medals in sailing is unsubstantiated and puts the accuser at risk of appearing prejudiced and demagogic.

June 29, 2008 @ 7:34 pm | Comment

“Who gives a fish’s tit about how many medals the UK wins?”

As someone who mainly visits the Peking Duck in order to plactice and implove his English, I have to say it’s amazing how many new expressions you can learn here. “Who gives a fish’s tit…?” Haven’t heard that one yet. Do fish actually have tits? I’ve never seen a fish with a tit (do they have only one or two?). Then again, in those heavily polluted Chinese waters you’ll probably find all kinds of creepy creatures.

June 29, 2008 @ 7:35 pm | Comment

I can recall that when the US held the Olympiad in Los Angeles there was great concern about smog and real complaints about loud police roaming the hallways of the Olympic Village at night

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. After that neither the US nor China could move the event to a new city. However, both were able to choose where they had events like the rowing, sailing, equestrian, etc.

I believe that with all the detailed planing, care and face invested by the Chinese in this Olympiad (er, could you agree with the sentence at least up to this point?) the algal bloom was unexpected

I wouldn’t imply that the bloom was expected, such that the selection of the site was deliberate in that respect. However, there were already concerns as mick pointed out about the location. Maybe the recent news is more the “straw that broke the camel’s back”, but I’m wondering – why was this place chosen at all? Is there no better area in the whole of China for sailing?

—-

To say that China isn’t trying hard enough to solve the problem because it doesn’t expect to win medals in sailing is unsubstantiated and puts the accuser at risk of appearing prejudiced and demagogic.

You are putting words in my mouth, richard. I asked whether there was a back-up plan, or whether China was doing all it could – i.e. that the situation was so bad they were down to using local fishermen. I am sure that China is doing all it can to fix this, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a bad idea to hold the sailing there in the first place, nor indeed to put environmental protection at the bottom of the priority list for years.

June 29, 2008 @ 7:38 pm | Comment

Mor fish don’t have any tits. Therein lies the beauty of the expression.

June 29, 2008 @ 8:10 pm | Comment

[...] the peckingduck (nice url) has blogged about the windless olympics (english [...]

June 29, 2008 @ 8:34 pm | Pingback

“Mor fish don’t have any tits.”

Thanks for telling me, Jing. Looks like we can all learn a lot from you.

June 29, 2008 @ 9:40 pm | Comment

“(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?

June 29, 2008 @ 9:41 pm | Comment

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?

So better to try to avoid criticism than pick a venue where the sailors might actually have a good competition? That seems rather short-sighted if the sailing is spoilt by poor planning – China will be criticised anyway and have the additional shame of not being able to organise the preverbial piss-up in a brewery.

Also, if all the events centres have to be near Beijing, why are the equestrian events being held in Hong Kong? That’s a distance of about 1,200 miles.

this algal bloom is a temporary and infrequent occurence gaining more press and untoward criticism than it merits, yes?

Or maybe not. Or, indeed, it has highlighted the fact that even if it is dealt with the reported problems with wind and fog can’t be dealt with so easily and will still be there.

June 29, 2008 @ 10:01 pm | Comment

“And, yes, as a Briton I am more likely to highlight problems when they occur, rather than sweep them under the carpet in the mistaken belief that is somehow being a “friend” of China.”

Raj quit the sidestepping and the pejoratives and admit your biased take on the article, which most of your readers seem to be aware/suspicious of. I am no more or less a “friend” of China than I am, being Scottish, a “friend” of England. That is, I attempt as best I can to question my inherent assumptions about country ‘x’ because that is what being educated means, and that is progress.

You can continue your floundering …

June 29, 2008 @ 11:35 pm | Comment

mor… a fish with tits is no doubt the basis of the mermaid myth. do you have them in China?

June 29, 2008 @ 11:38 pm | Comment

@ Scott,

China has managed to create a worse problem than the US has in a much shorter amount of time, and I’m not just referring to ocean coast algea blooms, I’m also talking about the inland fresh water blooms that are killing the lakes and shutting off an already very small fresh water supply.

China talks a big game and fails to follow through consistently.

June 30, 2008 @ 12:29 am | Comment

quit the sidestepping and the pejoratives and admit your biased take on the article

Bobby, everyone is biased. I would have been biased by simply posting the article and writing “read this” underneath. The belief that one can ever write an “unbiased” article, blog entry, or whatever is a delusion held by many people who lack wisdom.

which most of your readers seem to be aware/suspicious of

You mean people like Jing who have a go at anyone who writes something critical of China, or eco who appeared to be merely ignorant of past British sailing success at the Olympics?

You can continue your floundering…

I’d say that statement is at best a case of the pot calling the kettle black. At worst a case of needing to take a look in the mirror.

June 30, 2008 @ 12:43 am | Comment

off topic.

This fish with tits and mermaid discussion reminds me of a funny story.

To fishermen were working on their ship.
One of them caught a beautiful mermaid.
After looking her up and down he threw her back into the water.
His colleague says “But…Why?!”
He answered “But… How?”

June 30, 2008 @ 1:10 am | Comment

Or people like Scott who was able to take a step back upon reading the article and use his critical faculties?
Or people like Richard who seems also to understand the careless tone of your comments?

As should be self-evident to someone not lacking wisdom, it’s a question of whether you are humble enough to analyze and challenge such bias that is crucial and progressive. Try again young ‘un.

June 30, 2008 @ 1:21 am | Comment

@raj
“or eco who appeared to be merely ignorant of past British sailing success…”

For a moment I thought you were speaking about Sir Francis Drake ;-)

June 30, 2008 @ 1:26 am | Comment

Or people like Scott who was able to take a step back upon reading the article and use his critical faculties?

Who also seemed blissfully unaware that the equestrian is being held in HK when he was bleating about the “need” to host the sailing in proximity to Beijing because of possible criticism.

Or people like Richard who seems also to understand the careless tone of your comments?

I would say that he misunderstood my views – I clarified them subsequently.

“it’s a question of whether you are humble enough to analyze and challenge such bias that is crucial and progressive.

You accused me of a biased take on the article, not that I did not analyse or challenge bias in it. Don’t try to shift the goalposts.

—-

@eco, yes that’s why I added Olympics at the end. ;)

June 30, 2008 @ 1:42 am | Comment

Oh bloody hell Raj, if you analyzed your bias for as little as ten minutes then it might prevent the biased articles of which you are accused.

June 30, 2008 @ 1:45 am | Comment

Regarding the equestrian in Hong Kong:

“The change of venue is due to concerns that a disease-free zone, which would allow the horses to return home after the games, could not be delivered in China. Hong Kong’s quarantine procedures will allow the equine athletes to compete without concerns for their health.”

If this is true then it may supply the ‘need’ to hold it in Hong Kong (and the lack of international criticism). But I’ll happily admit I’m no horse-disease specialist.

June 30, 2008 @ 1:54 am | Comment

@bobby

“mor… a fish with tits is no doubt the basis of the mermaid myth. do you have them in China?”

I’m not in China anymore, but God knows what all those chemicals in the water there can do. Anyway, your explanation makes a lot of sense. I should have thought about it myself, fish with tits – mermaids. And ecodelta’s beautiful story would also explain the origin of the expression “Who gives a fish’s tit…?”

“The change of venue is due to concerns that a disease-free zone, which would allow the horses to return home after the games, could not be delivered in China. Hong Kong’s quarantine procedures will allow the equine athletes to compete without concerns for their health.”

Now, does that tell you something about China or not? I’m glad they let me back in when I returned to my fatherland.

Poor, polluted China!

June 30, 2008 @ 2:17 am | Comment

Oh bloody hell Raj, if you analyzed your bias for as little as ten minutes

There it is again. I’ve already told you – everyone is biased. If you want to be taken seriously stop using the term so simplistically.

If this is true then it may supply the ‘need’ to hold it in Hong Kong (and the lack of international criticism)

Wouldn’t a lack of wind and the presence of fog at a location also suggest that the sailing could be moved further afield? If China could move the equestrian to HK it could have moved the sailing somewhere else.

June 30, 2008 @ 2:41 am | Comment

Raj, you’re floundering was amusing to watch but now its just tiresome. You are accusing me of using the term ‘bias’ simplistically either because you still don’t understand my point or because you are like a man trying to remain motionless in the hope an annoying wasp goes away.

To be even more clear: I am fully aware we all have bias and I am delighted you see it too. But what is your bias Raj? Being as translucent as I can to save you any more concentric circles, I am accusing you of not taking the time to analyze YOUR own bias before you commented on this article (never mind the bias of the journalist, which is the next step).

Will you now take me seriously or will we be treated to another of your clumsy feet shuffles?

Concerning your suggestion that the sailing should have been moved due to lack of wind and the presence of fog, I accept your point (see how easy it is to do?) However, I also agree with Richard and Scott that the authorities care so much for a trouble-free games that there are likely compelling reasons why this city was chosen above the alternatives.

June 30, 2008 @ 3:11 am | Comment

I am accusing you of not taking the time to analyze YOUR own bias before you commented on this article

Sorry, I don’t go in for psycho-babble nonsense. I come across something interesting – I post on it. Now if you want to self-analyse yourself, please go ahead. Leave those who are quite comfortable with their attitudes et al to talk to others.

Will you now take me seriously

Not if you’re going to write comments such as the above quoted piece.

I also agree with Richard and Scott that the authorities care so much for a trouble-free games that there are likely compelling reasons why this city was chosen above the alternatives

You agree with something Richard didn’t actually say? (He didn’t actually mention alternatives.) That’s interesting – are you a mind-reader? Maybe you could tell me who will win the next Grand National.

I’d like to know what these “likely compelling reason”s are. Maybe you could let us know, or does this show what your bias is – that you assume everything the Chinese authorities do is because of “compelling reasons” and they never make a foolish decision?

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?

Because all three of those things are exceedingly moronic.

June 30, 2008 @ 4:08 am | Comment

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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