This was an important week here in Beijing, as we hit the magical milestone of having only 2 more years until the opening of the 2008 Olympics. There was much hoopla in this town to mark the occasion. The China Daily reported that 1 million residents got together to do morning exercises on the 8th. Be assured that this foreign resident was NOT among them!
The opening ceremonies of the Olympics are set to begin at 8pm on August 8, 2008. Or, another way to say it....8-8-08. And no, having all of those 8's in there is not just to be cute, it's to be auspicious. You see, 8 is a very lucky number in Chinese, so starting at a time and date with so many 8's all but gaurantees a successful Olympics!
The Beijing Olympic Games Organizing Committee (BOCOG) has been holding a series of press conferences this week to update preparations and make outlandish promises about the Games. My favorite headline was this one: "Beijing Promises a Smog-free, Congestion-free Olympic Games." Congestion-free is possible, since the government can simply order businesses to shut down and residents not to drive, but smog-free???? We're going to need some pretty extreme climate change to take place between now and then for that to happen!
And then there's the weather. 8-8-08 may be lucky as far as traditional Chinese thinking goes, but the weather in Beijing in August is typically dreadful! Hot! Humid! Smoggy! Foggy! Rainy! Smelly! If we have weather here in 08 like we've had this August, a billion people are going to lose face, big-time! But not to worry, in a presser yesterday, a BOCOG official already rolled out the weather forcast for the Games: "Weather data shows that the climate in August will be suitable for the Games. The possibility of rain on August 8, 2008 is between 30 and 40 percent. If it does rain, it will most likely be a drizzle."
Whew. That's good to know. I guess I won't need to take my umbrella.