Saturday, August 9, 2008

Live from Beijing

I am currently in Beijing for the Olympics; today is my third day in the city. I'll try to post about once every three days about the happenings here. Yesterday, we were able to watch two women's soccer preliminary games: Sweden vs. Argentina and China vs. Canada. These games were held in Tianjin, a large city about 100 miles southeast of Beijing. Chinese fans filled the venue, Tianjin Olympic Center Stadium, although there were some scattered foreign spectators. The stadium, with a seating capacity of 65,000, had an announced crowd of 56,000 people for the China vs. Canada game. This large crowd was rather unusual for a preliminary game, but the Chinese fans poured in to watch their home team, zealously chanting and clapping for the Chinese squad and unreservedly booing the Canadians. The Sweden vs. Argentina game was first, at 5:00 pm, but we were only able to watch the second half, since all of the train tickets from Beijing to Tianjin were already sold out for the earlier trips. Sweden dominated the second half (they probably did the same in the first half also). They controlled the ball for literally 75% of the half and won 1-0. Sweden could have easily scored 3 or 4 times, but the Argentinian goalie had some nice saves, and the Swedes also hit the crossbar several times.

The game that the crowd was waiting for followed at 7:45 pm. Raucous Chinese fans cheered loudly when their national team was introduced and also gave the loudest rendition of the national anthem that I had ever heard. However, they were soon silenced by the Canadian team, which outplayed China for the entire game (China was lucky to salvage a 1-1 tie). The Canadians had three times as many shots on goal (12-4) and also had many more legitimate scoring chances. While the Chinese capitalized on probably their only real opportunity of the night, a striker breakaway, the Canadians hit the post and also barely missed a couple of other shots from inside the box. The Chinese fans knew that their team was outmatched and were not too dejected with the tie.

Some interesting tidbits about the games and about life around the city:

-the smog was pretty bad on the 8th, the day of the opening ceremonies, but the air was a little bit clearer yesterday, and some blue could even be spotted in the skies
-there were thunderstorms and showers this morning, but most of it has subsided by now (it's currently 10:46 am in China)
-the drivers in China are somewhat reckless; the lane markers in the roads are useless, since not that many people follow them
-there are also some strange traffic rules (U-turns are allowed on red lights)
-the locals are very friendly and most of the volunteers/workers for the Olympics speak good English
-there was an NBC cameraman filming at the ticket pick-up building
-the subways and trains in and around the city are very efficient; it only took 30 minutes for us to go 100 miles from Beijing to Tianjin (the train reached speeds of 350 km/h)
-the food choices in Beijing are becoming more westernized; we spotted a bunch of McDonald's, KFC, and Pizza Hut joints

Okay, that's it for now, but check back in 2 or 3 days for another update from Beijing. Let's hope for better weather and some exciting games.


Anonymous said...

As a Chinese, I am really pleased to see your friendly comment.
The Chinese people are trying hard to present the world a harmony Olympic.

Anonymous said...

lol..i like your tidbits at the end!

amir said...

Its good to see people appreciating the effort that the Chinese put into making the show. I like your section at the end too :)

prince preppy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

What if the writer of this comment is chinese also? Would you still be pleased to see the friendly comment?

Raul said...

the opening ceremony was amazing..and buildings are beautiful

Anonymous said...

how do you feel about the mens soccer team? i haven't watched em' on tv.. but what are your ideas about them?