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The Beijing Olympics

The 2008 Beijing Olympics will be the most expensive games ever—and loaded with more symbolic ambition than any since Berlin 1936. Prospect's guide takes you through the political and cultural landscape of this gargantuan global sporting festival

By David Goldblatt   August 2008

Every time I hear an official Chinese voice or a pious sports blazer from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) tell us that the Beijing games are not political, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Why would an undemocratic regime organise a $35bn event—under the slogan “One world. One dream”—if not to reinforce its international prestige and domestic legitimacy?

Alongside its 28 sports, 31 venues, 200-plus national teams and over 10,000 athletes, the 29th modern Olympics is the political event of 2008. And Prospect’s short guide is your roadmap through the political twists and cultural turns that await.

Below,…

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