No one could say that Stratford is pretty, but nor is the process of making Beijing ready for this risky undertaking. Of course, life is easier if you are an autocracy. Need land for stadiums and underground stations? Just kick off the locals, as Beijing has done to 300,000 people. Need tens of billions of pounds to spend on it? The readies aren’t hard to find if you have foreign exchange reserves of a trillion American dollars.
We can, if we choose – and we should – get worked up about the dissidents who will find themselves under house arrest come August next year, or the million migrant workers who actually built all those venues, but will be kicked out of Beijing before the athletes arrive. But we should also see that China’s spectacular Olympic preparations are an expression of its violently accelerated development. We have ourselves been through some of these growing pains during our own Industrial Revolution, and we should not forget how difficult they were.
It is like adolescence; intensely exciting while it lasts, but not something that adults would wish to undergo again.
Gracious. If this is growing pains, that is one. fat. kid.