150 days to go – and the excitement is building up

Every day the Shanghai Daily’s front page shows how many days are left until 08-08-08, the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics. Today the front page told me that in exactly 150 days the Olympic Games will start. China already has its dedicated Olympic TV Channel where you can watch Chinese sportsmen and women prepare for the Games, or where they repeat all kinds of sports from past Olympics. It has become my station of choice to watch while running in the gym.

Also the preparation for the Olympic Torch relay is in full swing, and one of our friends was actually selected to be the torch runner for part of the route. The torch will even go to the top of Mount Everest this year, they were testing the feasibility of that during our Lhasa-Kathmandu bike ride last year, when we passed through Everest Base Camp. I am sure the progress of the torch run will be in the news every day.

Ogilvy decided it was a good time to do some research on the level of excitement of the Chinese for the Olympics, the Shanghai Daily reported today. According to their research 74 percent of the Chinese are either “excited” or “very excited”. In Beijing 79% of all people said that they were excited, and only 2% would leave the city in August (note that Chinese normally do not go on summer holidays like most Europeans do).

Strangely, the population of Beijing’s satellite-city Tianjin was among the least excited (no percentage reported). They would have the advantage that they could travel to Beijing by train for the event, without all the hassle of restrictions in car usage and other Olympic annoyances in their city. What’s also surprising is that the highest level of excitement was measured in Guangzhou (80 percent). This city is over 2000 km south of Beijing, and you would expect that the further away the less the excitement would be.

Generally I feel that the level of excitement is a lot higher than what I see around me. Most of my friends and colleagues in Shanghai like the Olympics, but it’s not (yet) a very big thing to many of them. Many tell me they would not even consider going to Beijing, in order to avoid the crowds and traffic problems.

According to the article 34 percent of Shanghainese plan to travel to Beijing for the Olympics. This is a figure I refuse to believe. That would mean that about 6 million people would travel from Shanghai to Beijing (and back) during the Olympics, totally impossible. Most could not even pay for the trip, especially not with the skyrocketing hotel prices. I therefore have some serious doubts about how the survey was performed. It’s nice for Ogilvy’s PR, but something about the results cannot be correct.

But whether the results are correct or not, I am sure the Games will be a huge success, and of course I am going to be there. I booked all event tickets long in advance, and also have my airplane tickets to Beijing (I even managed to use my Air China miles for that). So watch this blog in August for Olympic updates!

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