Fabrice Coffrini, Getty Images
Beijing is hosting the Olympics — including here at the National Stadium — but all of China is embracing these Summer Games.

BEIJING — In the Olympic annals and throughout history, they will be forever known as the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.

But they just as easily could be known as the China Games — especially here in the People's Republic of China.

Oh, China's capital is a fitting singular-city host, with nearly all events — except sailing, equestrian and a share of the soccer matches — to be contested in Beijing.

It just seems that the nation as a whole — a population of 1.3 billion in a country approximately the size of the United States — has caught Summer Games fever and isn't begrudging Beijing for its top-billing credit.

Especially the cities helping to host Olympic events.

Besides Beijing, soccer matches will be played in Tianjin (100 miles away), Qinhuangdao (200 miles), Shenyang (400 miles) and Shanghai (600 miles).

And Qingdao and Hong Kong are understandable venues for sailing and equestrian events, respectively.

Qingdao is a willing coastal resort town at the edge of the Pacific Ocean, since sailboats and Beijing's inland location are an impossible pairing. And Hong Kong is a well-established city with a rich horseracing tradition and the state-of-the-art facilities and personnel capable of handling valuable show horses.

But their distance from Beijing is substantial — Qingdao is some 340 miles from Beijing and Hong Kong nearly 1,200.

It would be like the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics sending one of its events, such as short-track speedskating, off to Boise or Mesquite, and another, like curling, off to either Calgary, Canada, or Monterrey, Mexico.

China is awash in the Olympics, thanks to the all-out advertising blitz that accompanies every Games as well as the onslaught of official Beijing Olympics banners and billboards.

No matter the medium — print, television, radio, building wraps and four-story-high video screens built into high-rises buildings, one can't go very far or very long in China without seeing an Olympic logo, name, motto or reference.

When you boast a population of a billion-plus, you're in a market advertisers really want to reach.

But it's more than just an avalanche of advertising and more than the Beijing Olympics' surge of signage.

Cities ranging from the mega-metropolises to the most rural towns have set aside parks and plazas, whether it be Hong Kong's Olympic Piazza on the banks of Victoria Harbor or the small Shaanxi Province town of Wienan building a huge yellow globe adorned with the Olympic rings alongside its major intersection.

Using the 2002 Salt Lake Games again to put it in perspective, it would be like Denver or Las Vegas or Portland getting excited for the Utah-hosted Olympics and putting up banners and signs and building Olympic parks and plazas.

To say nothing about major cities much farther away, like New York, Chicago, Houston or Los Angeles.

Yes, this is China's first shot at hosting the Olympics, and it's a coming-out party for China, so the national pride is understandable.

But while the world wants a peek at ancient sites and ancient cultures and ancient customs, China wants to show it is as modern and as up-to-date and as cutting-edge as the rest of world.

And it seems to want to expand on the Beijing Olympic motto of "One world, one dream."

"One China."


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