Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Making Sacrifices for Frivolity
From December 19, visitors at the Bird's Nest can spend 120RMB to ski, snowboard and play with artificial snow.
This is the latest venture in trying to keep the giant stadium from falling into the red. Originally just after the Olympics, the glow from hosting the international event was still see on visitors excited to see where Usain Bolt showed the world (including myself) why he was the fastest man in the world, and where director Zhang Yimou presented his memorable opening ceremony.
But now those hordes of people have come and gone and the Olympic memories have faded and the stadium has been left mostly unused. It's been used a few times since, with a concert featuring Jackie Chan, the staging of Turandot, and even race-car driving.
All these one-off events are not enough to keep the 90,000-seat stadium occupied year round.
So now they've come up with a fake snow scene. What's going to happen in the summer?
This short-term thinking just shows how little foresight officials have if they don't have long-term goals. Hosting the Olympics is one thing, but keeping a stadium occupied (and properly maintained) forever is another.
Also, now that snow machines must be working overtime now to build these snow slopes in the stadium, where is all this water going to come from?
Beijing is a parched city as it is and now it wants to create an artificial snow heap for fun?
Currently the south-north water diversion project is a mega one that will cost more than the Three Gorges Dam, with the first phase already costing 255 billion RMB and will relocate some 440,000 people. Water from the Yangtze River will be diverted into a canal to go up north to Beijing and other northern areas.
The thousands of people being relocated are bitter as their financial compensation isn't much, nor is the relocation better than where they live now. Scientists and engineers also question the viability of this project, as it may result in future environmental damage yet to be seen.
So can someone explain again why Beijing's National Stadium will be spending its precious natural resources to make fake snow to cover 20,000 square metres?
Filling a stadium with visitors is one thing, but wasting water for frivolity when it can be used for other more necessary things is a flagrant disregard for addressing the ever-increasing income gap.
It's ironic that over 60 years ago this government had originally presented a platform for social equality and now some have more entitlements than others.