The closing ceremony for the Beijing Olympics was as impressive as the opening. In between, China put on an amazingly well-organized set of games. China also won the greatest number of gold medals and came in second behind the USA in total medal count
. This splashy performance definitely caught the attention of people in the West and set off a lot of speculation in the press about what it all means. Robert Samuelson
discusses in a recent column
the Beijing Olympics as a metaphor for China overtaking the U.S. as the world's biggest economy.
What struck me most during the last week of events and at the closing ceremony is that we really are living in a new, multi-polar era without one single dominant country. I was fortunate to see Guo Jingjing win her springboard diving gold; Russia-USA men’s volleyball semifinal; Argentina-Nigeria soccer gold medal game; Jamaican runners dominate the sprints; Ethiopian and Kenyan runners dominate the long distances; and American runners sweep a couple of middle distance events. And while the Americans and Chinese can be justifiably proud of their medal totals, don’t forget that the member states of the EU won vastly more medals and gold medals than either of those countries. (My informal count as of mid-day Friday was that EU states had won 234 medals including 74 gold.)