China’s largest ever Olympic contingent of 411 athletes has brought expectations for a sizeable medal haul to Brazil. But with with local issues compounded by some wider – and more worrying – trends, it is no exaggeration to say that the Rio Olympics are facing potentially fatal headwinds.
The Rio Olympics are shaping up to be the most pivotal of recent times.
Not because the sporting action is any more anticipated than at previous Games – far from it – but because the Olympic concept has taken so many knocks in recent years that the very credibility of the Games is under threat.
The most important Russian to China right now is not Vladimir Putin, but it’s a man who knows him very well: Alexander Zhukov. That’s because he has just been appointed head of the evaluation commission for the 2022 Winter Games. In other words, he is leading the team that will select the host city.
Stephon Marbury could be in line for a second statue in Beijing. Having missed most of the season through injury, he has inspired the Beijing Ducks in the CBA playoffs, leading them into a finals showdown against the Xinjiang Flying Tigers after a 3-2 series win against the Guangdong Southern Tigers.
Paralympic action starts today in Sochi with China’s 10-strong contingent looking to claim the country’s first ever Winter Paralympic medal. Five of the 10 form the curling team, which finished third at the World Championships in both 2012 and 2013, so a medal is a definite possibility. The other five are cross-country skiers: no red hot favorites, but results have been improving and a podium finish is not out of the question.
Here, belatedly, is one of my appearances on BBC World during the Sochi Olympics, talking to presenter Sarah Stone live via Skype. The first part is a little outdated as it talks about China’s medals and prospects (at that time), but the section from 1:38 on Beijing’s bid for the 2022 Olympic Games is still relevant.
The Chinese delegation came away from Sochi with 3 gold medals, 4 silvers and 2 bronze, good for 12th in the medals table. China Sports Insider reviews the highs and lows…
Zhang Hong, gold, 1,000 m speed skating. Starting in the 7th of 18 heats (when the top ranked skaters typically go at the end), Zhang started slowly but then turned on the burners. Her time ripped up the track record and no one even came close – her winning margin was bigger than the previous four finals combined. Best of all, it was China’s first ever long track Olympic title.
Here are a few things we’ve been reading on China’s Olympic progress:
The BBC’s Martin Patience makes the good point that Zhangjiakou doesn’t have a hill large enough to host the downhill were China to win the 2022 Olympics. Fake snow? Check. Clear the skies? No problem. Bigger hill? Hmmm….