'Live sites' provide opportunity to view Games

August 5, 2008 8:01:13 PM PDT
Opening ceremonies for the Summer Olympics in Beijing are only three days away.And just what are these games doing for the image of China? And what can Chicago can learn from China?

Chao Yang Park is one of dozens of what are called 'live sites' where Beijing residents who don't have tickets to Olympic events can come watch live feeds of the action with thousands of their friends and neighbors."

It's as large as New York's Central Park. The fortunate can pay $120 to attend Olympic volleyball tournaments there. Those without tickets can gather to watch other Olympic action on giant televisions. Chicago's version of a 'live site' would be located in Grant Park.

"Great opportunity, if they can't get a ticket, live sites are very important," said Pat Ryan, chairman, Chicago 2016.

Chicago's bid team is looking at nearly every Olympic venue in China with an eye toward improving its own plan.

A government official stresses Chicago and the other 2016 candidate cities shouldn't believe there is only one formula for a winning bid.

"Another thing, which is very important, is to suit the bidding program to meet the distinctive characteristics of your city," said Li Wei, Beijing government spokesman.

"Anyone that was here a year ago and came back would not recognize this city," said Jared Mondschein, Wilmette native working in China

Mondschein said he believes the Olympics are both helping and hurting China's image. Government officials ordered his sister back to the United States after suddenly tightening visa requirements earlier this summer.

"You get a week to leave. You can pay 1,000 quay, that was it. She had to go," Mondschein said.

But the reviews from the U.S. Olympic team are largely positive so far.

Fencer Kelly Hurley is from Notre Dame and says strict government control is helping athletes have a more positive experience.

"I was here three months ago for a world cup, and let me tell you, it didn't look anything like this," Hurley said. "It was awful. You couldn't see that building across the street, your hand in front of your face. It was truly disgusting. I feel like I'm in a different country right now. They said they'd clean it up, and they really did a wonderful job."

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley begins his first full day in China late Tuesday night. He'll meet with the U.S. ambassador and then ride a short stretch of the nearly 54 miles of new subway lines built specifically for the Olympic Games.


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