Olympics and Politics

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Seven years ago, the secretary general of the Beijing Olympic Bid Committee said this summer's games would "not only promote our economy but also enhance all social conditions, including education, health and human rights." But, just four days before the Games will get underway, China's accused of breaking its promises to clean the air, relax controls on political dissidents and open up to the western media. One sports historian says nobody should have believed China's promises in the first place. But are the Olympics a sure path from despotism to democracy? We look at what Beijing does not want us to see, as well as what's on display, including architecture that rivals the Forbidden City and the Great Wall. 



  • John Hoberman - University of Texas at Austin
  • Daniel Bell - Professor of Political Philosophy, Tsinghua University
  • Philip Pan - Former Beijing Bureau Chief for the Washington Post; Author
  • Michael Webb - architecture critic and author


Warren Olney