Throwback Thursday: The Olympic Craze and Some Survival Hacks

Throwback Thursday takes a look back into Beijing's past, using our nine-year-strong blog archives as the source for a glance at the weird and wonderful of yesteryear.


Looking back at the Beijinger archives from August 2008, we all had only one thing on our minds: the Olympic games. Honestly, out of 54 blog posts on the Beijinger at the time, at least 49 were Olympic Games-related, and the other 5 still mention the event in one way or another. And rightfully so. To this day, each time my plane lands at the Beijing airport, I still hear the two-word chant from that summer in 2008: "Beijing, Beijing!" I've already made my peace with the fact that the tune will return soon in full force for the upcoming 2020 winter games.

Chinese hospitality was taken very seriously during the 2008 games. Beijing had 1,800 sites where fireworks were launched during the opening ceremony and was home to 31 Olympic sites (with seven cities in total hosting the events). The whole extravaganza cost over £20 billion in the end. 

The Beijinger's team was providing round-the-clock and round-the-perimeter care for spectators and those who were just trying to avoid the rush. From asking the important questions, like, "Why didn't China think of the Olympics before Greece?" (let's be honest, they might have, but just didn't have a strong enough marketing campaign) or telling expats living here not to leave the house and teaching tourists not to tip. Most importantly, we told you what buses will bring you home from the wild, wild Olympic events or how to escape the city altogether on the new 30-minute train to Tianjin. 

We know Chinese security usually is merely present and not terribly proactive, but when they decide to get serious, buckle up and avoid the iron fist by knowing what to avoid bringing into Olympic events to stay away from trouble. It must have been torture for some Beijingers to part with their beloved summer umbrellas and nail clippers. 

For those who could not be bothered (or missed their chance) to buy tickets to the opening ceremony, the Beijinger hunted down a few bars and pubs to gather around the screens and watch the ceremony. However, a fair share of those had already been fully booked as of the night before, so it seems like getting into screenings was a tough cookie to crack.

In 2017, we can tour the already abandoned Olympic venues and sigh for "what could have been." Seems like after-game use of the buildings was not in the plans and those concrete monsters are now wasting away in dust and smog. Some of them were never even finished, like the Olympic village of Homko, where athletes said that the air quality in Beijing was poor and that they would rather stay outside the city, leading to the complete abandonment of the nearly finished village. 

While we snap pictures of Beijing's Olympic stadiums of yore, athletes and media are busy preparing for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. It's just a stone's throw away – maybe if we get our tickets now, we won't have to watch the opening ceremony in a basement bar. 

Images: Olympic, The Beijinger, Read the Smiths, Burbex

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