Wednesday 25 Nov 2020 | 02:06 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 25 Nov 2020 | 02:06 | SYDNEY

Beijing Olympics a PR disaster?


Sam Roggeveen


15 February 2008 12:49

We've spoken a couple of times here at The Interpreter about China's acute sensitivity to the question of air quality, particularly in Beijing, which will host the Olympics in August. The press coverage up to now has been bad enough for Chinese authorities, but imagine the uproar if British athletes compete in outdoor events while wearing air-pollution masks. And then there's Beijing's Darfur policy, which has already convinced Steven Spielberg to end his association with the Games, and that may be just be the start of the blowback.

So how bad could it get for China, and how much does it matter?  It's impossible to come up with any kind of metric for perceptions and reputations, but I'm inclined to think even a poorly-received Games would be but a glancing blow. After all, the USSR in 1980 was a far more repressive place than China is today, and although the Soviets doubtless got some bad press at the time, it would be hard to argue that those Games helped bring down the Communist Party. Media perceptions probably matter more now than they did then, but unless the Beijing Games are  a complete disaster, the world will just move on, as it did after the less-than-perfect Atlanta Olympics.

One other reason to believe this: the Olympics just don't matter as much to most other countries as they do to us Australians.

Photo by Flickr user danasmith, used under a Creative Commons licence.