LJWorld.com weblogs On Track in Beijing
Welcome to (BIG) Beijing
_Tim Weaver, former meet director of the Kansas Relays, is a manager for USA Track and Field and is in Beijing for the Olympics. Occasionally, he'll send blog entries chronicling his time there._Beijing is big. Big buildings. Big traffic. Big noise. Big airport (terminal 3 is the largest indoor structure in the world, we are often told). Beijing imitates a big machine that hums both day and night. Here echoes a constant din of people moving and working and playing and mostly bicycling within inches of each other - cars, people, buses and buildings. Speaking of, there are clearly two ways to secure the safety of your bike in Beijing. The first is to procure a sort of lock that hooks the frame and rear wheel together so the thing can't roll. The other is to possess a bike so abundantly wretched that no one else would steal it. I've met several locals eagerly wishing to practice their English in the friendliest of manners. It's quite nice, in direct contrast to the gratuitous public spitting. Like most of Asia, the toilets here are (literally) a porcelain hole in the ground.But there are more similarities than differences, I suppose. Cell phones and iPods are everywhere. As are U.S.-brand shirts, baseball caps, flip flops and packs of giggly teenagers. Some qualities remain universal.As far as the reason we're all here, things are looking good. For one, the U.S. team will be quite sharp in the opening-ceremony garb. Can't say what the uniform will look like, but it's very classy above all else. We have a city-within-a-city here where the U.S. team trains. Some of the best food I've ever had, great training facilities, medical setups and many places to just relax. George Bush came through today and toured our area, drawing more than a little media attention. The Bird's Nest stadium is an amazing structure. I went to see it last night and found tens of thousands of locals out near it seeking the highest point from which to take a photo of the thing lit up at night. Word around town is that the Opening Ceremonies has cost $300 million and will feature over 10,000 performers. Most think that the Chinese 110 hurdler Liu Xiang, the 2004 champion, will light the stadium flame. We'll know for sure by this time tomorrow.Regardless, expect something big.