Allon Sinai's Beijing Diary: A great first impression

Post's reporter in Beijing Allon Sinai files his first Olympic dispatch.

mao beijing 63 (photo credit:)
mao beijing 63
(photo credit: )
The first thing that hits you is the sheer enormity of it all. As you land at Beijing Airport you can't help but be taken aback by the tremendous effort the Chinese have invested in creating an indelible first impression. The massive impeccable reception hall, the many volunteers and the care for every detail, as small as it may be, mean that anybody arriving in Beijing has no choice but to be incredibly impressed. It's no secret that from the day it was announced that they would host the 2008 Olympics, the Chinese set themselves the target of putting on the best Games in history. The organizers are treating these Olympics as an event that in the future will be regarded as a landmark in their history and will do almost anything to please their guests at the Games. After landing on Tuesday, I never even got a chance to lift my bags, as at every stage of my journey to the Media Village there was someone there insistent on doing the schlepping for me. Hosting the Games is one of the final steps in China's development into a leading world power and it appears that no political uproar, important as the issue might be, can slow the country down. A successful Olympics are essential for the hosts if they're to portray China as they hope to, and clearly no expense or effort is being spared. Every venue was completed well ahead of time and the Chinese are desperate to make sure that any visitor to the capital will only have good things to say about their stay in Beijing. For example, even though millions of Chinese remain stuck in an excruciating gridlock in the city center, the shuttle collecting athletes and journalists from the airport glides undisturbed in the Olympic lane, reserved only for official vehicles. Bigger is not always necessarily better, but the Beijing Organizing Committee evidently believes it is. The preparations and the lead-up to the Games may have gone nearly perfectly, but the Olympics haven't even started yet and it still remains to be seen if China lives up to its promise of staging the greatest Games in history. As far as first impressions go, however, Beijing deserves top marks. Nevertheless, the result of its true test will only be handed out after August 24's Closing Ceremony.