Courtesy of some foreign media in Beijing, welcome to the trend of the week- the ‘no fun’ Olympics (just Google the phrase and you’ll see). I’ll post something detailed on why I think some reports are inaccurate, but here are some talking points I wrote for interviews with, ironically, the media.
“No fun” for whom?
Most media reports do not distinguish between local residents, foreign residents, local tourists, foreign tourists, corporate guests, and so on. It feels like they are talking in good part about what foreign residents consider fun and, given many of the reporters live here, thus about themselves.
What do they mean “no fun”?
It seems they mean things like: 1) a half-dozen venues closed at the entrance to Workers’ Stadium*, 2) a handful of venues banned from hosting live music outside, and 3) ID checks by police. They also disproportionately cite people who have been personally and negatively impacted by these measures, hardly the kind to be objective about “fun.” Please note that at the time of writing, hundreds of spots – thousands if you are open to more localized venues – are still slated to be open.
What do they mean by “fun”?
They mean nightlife. But they should consider, for example, that foreign tourists might prefer to not spend all their time in bars and instead watch events, eat Beijing duck and scorpions on a stick, visit the Great Wall and Forbidden City, shop, try some Mandarin on the locals, and ogle the size of the city, all things they will find fun.
The thing is, we don’t know if the Olympics will be fun, because we don’t know what other measures the government might take or, in terms of nightlife, exactly how many people will be out and about (due to corporate parties and, what I consider the biggest factor, visa issues). But my guess is that those who do come will define fun as more than nightlife, that if they do hit the bars they will find most of them open, , and that many residents – including foreign journalists – will end up having a good time.
I’ll have a more detailed post either later today or tomorrow morning.
Note: Interestingly, numerous long-term foreign residents in Beijing say some of their best partying came amidst the doom and gloom of SARS. I wonder if they’ll find the same during the “no fun” Olympics.
* These venues are a stone’s throw from Workers Stadium, which will host some soccer matches. The media portrays their closing as part of the “no fun” Olympics. But if they had remained open, and some major security breach occurred, the media would then have portrayed it as part of the “no security” Olympics. Sometimes you just can’t win.