Beijing Bureau: Athletes of Unknown Parentage

Watching the wall-to-wall coverage of Michael Phelps’s mom, one would be forgiven for imagining that the parents of Olympians go from the Today Show to handshakes with the President to interviews with Tom Brokaw. As it happens, many parents have to scramble for tickets and hotel rooms like everyone else. (In the weeks leading up to these Games, the special online ticket lottery for family members of Olympians was mistakenly opened to the public). Most parents come to Beijing to see their sons and daughters get knocked out in the first round of competition. Most never run…

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Beijing Bureau: Shuttlecock Diplomacy

Several years ago there were whisperings that Taiwan might declare independence during the Olympics, when countries would have hundreds of athletes, coaches and spectators in Beijing — and China might be reluctant to retaliate. The rumors were far-fetched, of course. But at the time, they seemed just plausible enough that people kept repeating them. The Taiwan issue may not mean much to Americans, but it is huge in China. Taiwan’s on-again, off-again inching towards independence has angered a lot of people on the mainland, many of whom consider the island a break-away province. Taiwan, Japan, Tibet and…

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