Home / 2008 Beijing Olympic Games / News Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read | Comment
IOC marketing supremo: Smile, Beijing
Adjust font size:

Politics, inevitably, continues to be an issue. China has encountered substantial criticism in the western media for ''politicizing the Games''. This seems harsh in the light of the history of the 70s and 80s, and it was not China who invented or introduced the torch, the podium, the national anthems and the national flags. Other countries like America, the Soviet Union, and East Germany have long used the Games as a symbol of their power and influence, and even of the superiority of their political systems.

On this issue, Payne is again categorical:

''A lot of our international media colleagues are failing to address this issue in proper perspective. Things are not 100 percent right or wrong in any country of the world - I speak out strongly in saying let's put this stuff into context.

''Every country uses the Olympics for political purposes. What one has to recognize and understand is the basic question: What is the legitimate role for the political agenda in the equation? It is not valid for any politician or media outlet to leap to conclusions about political issues at the time of the closing ceremony - it's not going to happen that quickly. Only a decade from now will commentators be able to look back and properly judge the social, economic and political impact of the Games in China.

''Everyone who has been coming to this country for the last decade is amazed at the changes that have happened in that time. My wife is coming with our three children for the second week of the Games. It's going to be very interesting for her.''

There is a further issue, again a theme to which the West's media devote much attention, of whether the IOC has compromised its principles too much in an effort to accommodate the demands of the Chinese government - on such issues as freedom, media access, and opening of communication channels like Internet portals.

Payne says, ''I can safely say that in 13 of the past 14 Olympics the world's media were actively hostile in the month before the Games: Stadiums will never be ready; the event will be a disaster; this ethical scandal heralds the end of the Olympics... In every single case the Games were lauded by the same media after the closing ceremony.''

''To some extent what we have here is pretty well business as usual,'' he says. ''The issue is different, but if it was not this issue then it would be something else. Was it understood that the Beijing Games would take place in an atmosphere of total openness and freedom? I'm not sure that would be the case anywhere in world. I do believe that China has made a considerable effort. The steps taken in last few days are important - steps such as the unblocking of BBC World's China Service. That this has been done is right and correct - if it had not happened then there would have been reason for criticism.''

Volunteers prepare for providing services at a street stall in Niujie street in Beijing, capital of China, July 23, 2008.

Volunteers prepare for providing services at a street stall in Niujie street in Beijing, capital of China, July 23, 2008. 

In conclusion, Payne returns to his key theme - to make the Olympic Games a joyful experience for all who take part, whether as participants, spectators, or bystanders.

''Six weeks ago I had dinner with some of the key members of the Beijing Organizing Committee. I had one simple word of advice for them and for all of those involved in the Games: Smile! Do that, and you will transform the image and the atmosphere of the Olympics. The tangibles - the venues, the transport, the infrastructure, the schedules - are all in place, but that is only one half of the experience. The intangible - the emotional experience - is what will make the Games. How the world is received - the public, the international visitors, the media - has to be the priority now. Don't let the undeniable need for security suffocate the atmosphere of the Games - it costs nothing to keep people safe with a smiling face. We know that the people of China are looking forward to the Olympics as the world's big birthday party. Let it show on your faces. Just smile!''

Olympic Turnaround

Olympic Turnaround
By Michael Payne
First published 2005
London Business Press, London

Buy the book on Amazon.co.uk/Amazon.com; buy the book in Chinese on Amazon.cn

(China.org.cn by David Ferguson August 6, 2008)

     1   2   3   4  

Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read
Pet Name
China Archives
Related >>
- Lenovo goes for the Gold in 2008
- Non-sponsors warned against using Beijing Olympic logos, images
- BOCOG makes progress in marketing
- Lenovo not renewing Olympic contract
- Sponsors of Olympics required to protect ozone layer
- Olympics Also a Great Marketing Forum

Product Directory
China Search
Country Search
Hot Buys