The Beijing Olympics has already started, even before the opening ceremonies, as soccer matches are played throughout the country. NBC has promised hundreds or even thousands of hours of coverage, including live streamed coverage on the Internet. By comparison, in 1960, for the Rome Olympics, there were only 20 hours of TV coverage (Newsday).
Times have certainly changed. It wasn’t long before the year 1960 when my family fled from mainland China to take refuge in Hong Kong, only to find our final home in Tokyo in the early 1960s. The Tokyo Olympics were held in 1964 two years after I first stepped onto Japanese soil.
I carried a British Passport, issued to people who were born in Hong Kong. The pieces of paper said that we could travel around the world as British Citizens, although we could not live in England. And come 1997, I would have become a citizen of China, if I had not attended a swearing in ceremony with 10,000 other people to become a US Citizen in 1990.
I was born in Hong Kong, raised in Japan, and am now a proud American. But, when the Olympics start, which nation do I root for? ‘Tis an interesting dilemma. I have a tendency to support Japan, because my heart still seems to belong there—after all, it was the nation where I grew up along with most of my family. My wife is Japanese, and my parents and brother and sister are naturalized Japanese citizens. But I know that I will root for Kobe Bryant and Team USA in basketball, even if Japan sported a basketball team.
Being a global citizen sometimes feels like being a citizen of no nation. I travel around, could identify with many cultures, but am home to none. I told my sister this, and she said that she feels the same way, but that we are lucky to be given such a chance.
The Beijing Olympics may have opened the Pandora’s Box for the Chinese Government. Once the people of China see the world, and vice versa, there is no going back. A billion people who see their own potential in the world will want more. They will aspire to be great, just like people in other nations.
The next few weeks will be quite interesting for me. There is so much going on – the drama from the pure sports competition; the political angle; the diplomacy behind the scenes; the scale of the country itself; the first chance for China to be truly open to the outside world; the desire of the Communist Regime to show the best side, while reigning in dissidents, and dealing with potential terrorists; the reaction of the foreign visitors, media, and governments to the event and the people; the reaction of the Chinese people to this monumental effort.
For once, perhaps I can pretend to be an impartial observer just taking in the totality of the events. I won’t have to root for anyone or to wish for anyone’s demise. I hope I don’t get accused that I’m not Chinese or American enough (interesting that I never have to be accused of not being Japanese enough, although I might root for them the most).
It is not that I’m not proud of my Chinese heritage. To anyone who asks me where I’m from, I tell them that I think like an American, my heart is in Japan, but my blood is unequivocally Chinese. Just watch me when I land in Vegas.
But in a sense, I live the slogan for this year's Olympics--One World One Dream.
Hope everyone gets to share in that.
Checkout the official web-site of the Beijing Olympics.