Monday, July 28, 2008


Beijing is now teeming with local Olympics volunteers, greeters and hostesses.

In order for women to qualify as Olympics hostesses they must meet a number of requirements, including that they have slim legs, and they must smile for their entire shift. (Think about this when you are looking at the media coverage of Beijing and see the many smiling hostesses.)

For the last couple of weeks booths with signs saying "Volunteer" have been sprouting up in tourist-heavy spots around the city, with groups of Chinese volunteers standing talking, waiting for the throngs of global tourists to descend and ask questions about how to find shops, restaurants and hotels. There are even information tables set up in subway stations, often near the new X-ray machines that have been put into place to make the increased security more visible.

No, I don't have tickets. Prices are high and I don't want to be fleeced by scalpers. If something becomes available from a trustworthy source I'd love to go - preferably for any of the water sports, archery or track and field events. During lunch after dragon boat practice yesterday some of us were making the wishful argument that we should be allowed to watch the Olympic rowing events in order to learn how to improve our performance. If we get tickets, great. If not, there is going to be plenty of entertainment on the streets of Beijing. As always.

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