Beijing 2008: ‘Points to remember’

After years of preparation, the Olympic Games’ opening ceremony on Friday evening was accompanied by a sigh of relief that we can all finally get on with it.

Beijing 2008: 'Points to remember'’s Beijing 2008 blog covers the games from the lawyer’s perspective, with posts from lawyers and other legal professionals in the city on the Olympic events, the gossip, the law firms and the atmosphere.

The blog began with a post from Beijing-based legal recruiter Rob Metcalf on, er, the women’s volleyball and how to chant ‘Go Beer!” in Mandarin, while Christoph Hezel of Taylor Wessing followed with news of a new area of control for the people’s party.

And in our latest post, Mary Kok of Clifford Chance gives an inside take on the experience of one Olympic athlete – her own daughter, Stephanie.

To send us your own Olympic blog or photo, email me: Jon Parker, web editor

‘Points to remember’, Christoph Hezel
Tuesday 12th August, 11am

For weeks local radio stations and other media here have been repeating the same song, “We Are Ready”.

Sometimes it seemed as if the Chinese needed to reassure themselves that Beijing really would be ready and polished for the grand opening.

Certainly there have been a lot of sceptics here as well as abroad, and even Chinese Feng Shui Masters were full of foreboding, with both the shape of a bird’s nest fallen from a tree (a la the stadium) and a torch carried up a mountain (like the Olympic torch carried up Mt. Everest) symbols considered unlucky.

But despite it all, Beijing was ready.

However the preparatory measures taken during the days prior to the opening took odd forms, such as the concrete lampposts being painted with special coating to make them look like they are made of shining stainless steel.

Bizarrely, the citizens of Beijing were also instructed by public announcement to adjust their habits to the mass of foreign tourists expected to invade the city.

Predictably, they were advised to avoid discussions about politics; instead, it was recommended, the Chinese should welcome every foreigner with the words: “You are wonderful, you are great!”

(I’m still waiting for the first comment about my greatness.)

Citizens were also reminded to adjust their driving habits to more civilized standards, and were cautioned by the authorities to refrain from spitting in public.

And anyone who thought the Communist Party, known for leaving nothing to chance, would meekly surrender to the whims Mother Nature has another thing coming.

Dozens of flak canons have been installed on the outskirts of Beijng, charged with shooting down any cloud that dares to threaten the Olympic Stadium with a shower without explicit permission from the authorities.

The process, known as ‘seeding’, involves shooting chemicals into the sky to induce rain from them sooner rather than later; and specially trained farmers have been tasked with gunning down rogue clouds to force them to start raining before they reach the stadia.

Whatever the rest of the games turns out like, a city capable of controlling the rain makes for a hard act to follow for any other city hoping to host the Olympics. Particularly if that city is London…

Christoph Hezel is a Rechtsanwalt (German attorney-at-law) at the Beijing office of Taylor Wessing.

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