Empty Seats and Flashy Olympics

August 14, 2008 Updated: October 1, 2015
A general view of Beijing's Chaoyang Park Beach Volleyball Ground is pictured with the city of Beijing in the background during the Women's preliminary beach volleyball matches on August 13, 2008 at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. (Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images)
A general view of Beijing's Chaoyang Park Beach Volleyball Ground is pictured with the city of Beijing in the background during the Women's preliminary beach volleyball matches on August 13, 2008 at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. (Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s been several days into the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Those who sit in front of TV to watch the Games might be surprised to see lots of empty seats in many games. Some games only had very few Chinese audience members. What happened to the Chinese people’s passion towards the Olympics?

Tickets Hard to Get, or No One Wants to Buy?

The Chinese media, in order to play up the passion Chinese people have for the Games, repeatedly reported that tickets to the Games are hard to get. The truth is, with that many empty seats in the stands, it’s impossible all of those who bought the tickets just decided not to show up. We know the media lied about the popularity of the Olympics in China.

One may drop his jaw when he hears the official explanation—many tickets were given to sponsors and special guests as gifts and they weren’t interested enough to come to the games. That might be able to explain why the tickets are hard to get, but it still couldn’t explain why tens of thousands of people wouldn’t go to the games with free tickets.

There is only one truth—people are just not interested in the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Cares Only About the Opening Ceremony

After the opening ceremony, there was a saying that the Olympics were over, and the empty stands proved it. If Beijing made public the budget and the manpower it wanted to put in, it’s likely most civilians wouldn’t agree China should host the Games. If taking into account the facts the CCP would raise political pressure and intensify economic and public control in the name of Olympics, the voice against it would have been louder.

The Olympics was meant to be the largest sports event in the world. If Beijing isn’t interested in sports, why throw in so much money and manpower into it? Because by hosting the Olympic Games, the CCP can glorify itself, can strengthen its weak mind due to a guilty conscience, and can cover the illegality of its dictatorship by having the world leaders coming to the Games. All of the above was accomplished in the opening ceremony.

The CCP wanted this ceremony, all of the CCP’s leaders showed up in the ceremony. Several hours later, the political show was over, and so was the Olympics. The empty stands are surprises for the IOC. Too late!

Most of Chinese Audience Members Are Interested in Gold Medals Only

To advertise for the Olympics, the CCP constantly flamed up emotions of nationalism for its political needs. It made a pure sports event into an issue of national pride in order to solidify its governance. The CCP focuses on the number of gold medals, like the former USSR and Eastern European countries, to show off its false merits and to powder its face.

Among the 303 gold medals given out in the Olympics, the CCP intentionally misled the people to watch dozens of games that the Chinese teams are more likely to win gold. Besides the true sports fans, most Chinese audience members are outsiders who have no idea about the sports they watch and were only there for the moment of winning the gold.

For the rest of more than 200 games, besides popular games such as basketball and soccer, most people weren’t interested in watching and hence the empty stands—unless they were occupied by officially arranged audiences. After the 2004 Olympics in Athens, most people were cheerful about the number of golds the Chinese team won. However, an Olympics professional commented that it wasn’t many even if China won 100 golds, based on the amount of money the country spent.

Empty Stands Reflect True Life of People in China

The CCP built new stadiums with high technology and modern designs at all cost. Even Western countries were impressed. However, this is simply too far away from the life of the general public. Most of the peasants who came to Beijing to build the stadiums were most likely expelled from Beijing, let alone other peasants from poor villages they were from. For those who live in Beijing, most of them could just balance their checkbooks and still dream about saving up for more. For them, there isn’t expendable cash from their daily routine and the leisurely mood.

The empty stands were not the people of Beijing’s fault. Most people’s living quality was disproportionate to the luxurious stadium. The number of gold medals China has won is a bright contrast to the poorly equipped public sport facilities, and the low quality of sports training of the general public. The living quality of the general public makes it such that they couldn’t fully enjoy this sport feast.

The flashy luxury showed how Beijing had carefully staged the Olympics, and the empty stands tell the world the truth of Beijing 2008.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.