The secret Games

Staff Writer
30 Jul 2008

The Olympics aren't here yet, but I'm already over them. Judging by the largely empty hotel rooms in Beijing , it seems I'm not the only one unenthused.

Sure, I hope they go swimmingly (trackingly‾), but I'm past the point of caring.

Why the apathy‾

Yes, it could be the incessant Olympics propaganda-widely evident here in Hong Kong , inescapable in the capital.

Yes, it might be the slogan 'One World, One Dream', which has gone from merely implausible to laughable.

It could be the endless torch relay, or the bad-tempered demonstrations by Chinese nationals it sparked off.

It could be the lame effort at the 'green Olympics,' which has meant standing down millions of workers to keep the air clean, and deploying battalions of soldiers to clear algae from the sailing course. Not to mention the erection of boondoggles like the 'Bird's Nest', whose use of steel mesh uses vastly more energy than a conventional structure.

Or it could be that officials have demonstrated the Olympics spirit by detaining even more activists and government critics.

Or it could be the ever-expanding constraints on daily life and constant hectoring of citizens. From the subway baggage inspections and the vehicle checkpoints to the hustling away of migrant workers and the banning of flights during the opening ceremony, it's the unfettered, humorless official obsession with what is, for all the spectacle, merely a sporting event.

It is no wonder the IOC told games organizers to lighten up and, if at all possible, just smile.

Yet beyond all of those the main reason the Olympics lost my interest months ago is more professional.

I'd like to be writing this pre-Games column about the communications and IT underlying the event.  Whatever the athletes might think, the modern Olympics is a gigantic media occasion, held together by 1s and 0s.

I'd love to be able to tell you I know more about the Beijing Data Center than that it looks like both a barcode and a computer chip (though I do believe it's been working better since it stopped handling online ticket sales, three hours after sales began last October).

Soft target

I'd also like to say I've talked to some of the leaders of the IT program about the challenges they've overcome and what they've done differently from the last Games.

I also wish I could impart something about the telecom deployments, in particular the mobile and Wi-Fi networks. Why it is that China Mobile and not the host broadband carrier China Netcom is the main Wi-Fi provider I just can't tell you.

 And neither can Netcom, although it did promise to explain 'how the Olympics will change China Netcom'.

And all of that, if you haven't already guessed, is because of the willful inability of anyone associated with the Games to share any meaningful information about ICT design and deployments.

Sure, vendors such as Lenovo and Altos have explained to press how their gear fits into the scheme of things, but they're just the support cast.

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