The enormous number of gold medals hanging from the necks of Chinese athletes--a startling 51 to Japan's meager 9--was just the icing on the cake after a humbling two weeks of events for Japan at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Japan and China enjoyed a relatively peaceful relationship during the Games, as hostilities towards the visiting country were not readily apparent. Negative news regarding China also suddenly dropped off as Japanese tuned themselves in to networks blaring the poppy theme song "Gift" by Mr Children and focused on the the trials and triumphs of their 328 athletes.
The show, China's great demonstration of power, has finished. Yet the commentary has only begun regarding what such a giant--and expensive at $43 billion--performance will mean to the future of the country and to the Olympics themselves. The foreign media hailed the games as a logistic success, but many are dubious as to the motives of such horn-tooting and the effects this outrageous event will have on future Games.
The expensive and gaudy production put on by the Chinese were of definite worry to London, host of the 2012 Games. But as one LA Times reporter commented, "British officials are no doubt wondering how they can possibly top the spectacle of Beijing when London hosts the Summer Games in 2012. They shouldn't even try."
While commentary regarding the production of the events is noticeably sparse in the Japanese media, the Yomiuri did make the call that they were "unprecedented egotism on the part of the host city."
It is no doubt Tokyo is feeling this pressure as well, and although its not their responsibility to follow up after China's performance, Japan's inferiority complex in the light of a stagnant economy is difficult to hide. But in true form, Tokyo officials have begun pushing the message "Small is Beautiful," claiming that a 2016 Tokyo Olympics would be compact and environmentally friendly.
The Wall Street Journal reports that city officials would push for reusing older facilities instead of bleeding funds into construction, and that transportation times for athletes to Olympic venues would take under 20 minutes. The article quotes Ichiro Kono, chairman of the Tokyo 2016 committee, as playing things cool in the of China's glory, saying "We don't feel like Beijing's set the standard in any way, we're not aiming to be big."
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