I spent the past days in Beijing with my family and had a great time here. Most days I worked a couple of hours during daytime and did some sports, and later in the afternoon I went over to the city center, to the Holland Heineken House or to one of the stadiums to watch Olympic Events. So far the best event I went to was beach volleyball. Not only because of the sport itself, but especially because of the atmosphere around it. Great music and even better bikini-clad cheerleaders, the pictures of them are among my best viewed Flickr pictures over the past days!
I also like athletics a lot, especially because there is so much to see. At any single moment there are always at least two or three different sports going on, and it’s also fun to watch athletes prepare for their races. We were lucky because we saw several Olympic Records during our time in the stadium, and even a World Record (Men 200 meters). I am still amazed at what happens when a Chinese athlete participates in an event, the roof of the stadium would literally blow off because of the noise the audience makes (luckily the Bird’s Nest has no roof). Too bad Liu Xiang did not participate in the 110 meter hurdles anymore, otherwise I would have probably needed earplugs.
Tennis was cool as well, although you never know how long a match will last. We watched the women’s single and double semi-finals, and also had tickets for the men’s double final, but because it was quite late already I had to skip that. Men’s field hockey was a bit disappointing, especially because we watched Holland lose against Germany in the semi-finals. During overtime it even started to rain in the stadium, and we got soaking wet. Not a big deal, we dried up soon as well, but I had expected a better match. I still have tickets to baseball and the athletics finals on Saturday, and of course to the Closing Ceremony on Sunday night. I have never seen a Closing Ceremony before and I look forward to it.
Many of the nights I spent at the Holland Heineken House, THE place to party in Beijing at the moment. It becomes more crowded there every day, and a lot of the party people there are not from Holland anymore (like during the first days). It’s a great atmosphere to meet friends and business relations, and the only place where I can watch sports with Dutch comments. There is even a Dutch newspaper (De Telegraaf) that is printed in Beijing during the Olympics and distributed for free.
One highlight for me was to be invited to the recording of the NOS TV program Sportzomer on the roof of the Holland Heineken House. Very professional with an excellent presenter (Mart Smeets). It was also fun to meet some of Dutch medals winners in person there. Another highlight was to be able visit to the NOS (Dutch public broadcaster) studio in the IBC (International Broadcasting Center) on the Olympic Green. Amazing to see what is happening there, not only at the NOS but also at other broadcasters and at the facilitators. See some pictures here and here.
Two more days and then the Olympics will be over. I for sure had a fantastic time during the Games, meeting friends, going to parties and seeing top sports people live in action. I hope all athletes and tourists had as good a time as I had here, and that they have a bit more nuanced view of China after seeing the country for themselves.
Although the Games are not over yet, so far I feel Beijing did an excellent job organizing these games. Except for the first few days even the weather was good (man-made or by coincidence?), which was the only thing I was a bit concerned about. Traffic was quite smooth, and getting to and from the events was a lot easier than I imagined. I am glad things went well so far, because I personally feel China deserves it. People worked so hard to make it a success and were so proud of it, but in the months before the Games the foreign media only criticized the country. I hope at least the visitors to China (and especially the media people) will now have a less biased view of this country, and understand a little bit more of what is really happening here. If that is the case the Olympics have been a total success for me.