OK for the next two weeks or so you won’t be able to switch on the box without seeing some (mainly Japanese) athletes winning a medal, or failing valiantly. The Olympic circus is on. (Oddly, I still haven’t got the Theme Song branded into my brain yet. I think there is one, and I remember at the time of the Aichi Expo you heard it 10 times a day on the radio and TV.) The time difference with Beijing is only one hour here so we’ll get all this stuff in real time, replacing all our regular programmes so the NHK producers, actors and other staff can take a Summer holiday. At this time of the year the programmes are all repeats anyway, so it won’t make that much difference really…
It’s alright I suppose – last night I watched the opening ceremony for an hour and a half till I got Spectacle Overload and fell asleep. The Chinese are justifiably proud of their recent economic progress, and want to show off a bit, like Japan at the time of the Tokyo Olympics when the Bullet Train had just been built and the nightmare of the war and its aftermath seemed over. Of course China still has a lot of unfinished business, politically maybe most of all. The long post-war hold on power of the LDP in Japan might look a bit suspicious democratically, and certainly allowed a lot of corruption to creep into the system, but at least they could be thrown out of power in elections in principle, actually were on one occasion I remember, and might well be at the next one… No such chance in China. Control on access to information and freedom of expression make it easy for rulers to do whatever they want, and corruption, at least at the local level, seems to be rife. Add a devastated environment, huge inequality of income, no free education or free medical care any more, numerous riots and protests all over the country and the potential for some kind of explosion is certainly there. It wouldn’t be nice for anyone, inside or outside the country. (Still, we have the encouraging example of South Africa, which seemed to be headed for a bloodbath till the white minority peacefully handed over power.)
Anyway, the Olympics – Chinese tend to get very indignant at the idea that the Tibetans or Uighurs might take advantage of this opportunity to express their grievances, but they’ve certainly got plenty to be aggreaved about and I wouldn’t be that surprised if there were some incidents. Otherwise, good luck to the athletes who’ve prepared so long for the Big Event!