It is now common knowledge that the a lot of the stands at the current Beijing Olympics are half-empty or more most of the time. This is a big surprise for a nation of over 1.3 billion people even though the vast majority of them are too poor to afford the tickets. The explanations for the empty stands are at best murky even for a still regimented quasi-communist state that has spent a huge fortune to look good for the rest of the world for two weeks of the games. Coincidentally, a lot of foreigners have been left in the lurch on the tickets fiasco.
The whole enterprise reminds this blogger of the Cricket World Cup last year in Barbados with all the hype, the half-empty stands, and the ignominious finale in darkness no one can forget. It is doubtful whether things would have been much different were India and Pakistan not eliminated early. One of the outcomes of the debacle is that governments of the day which spent big for the event (with the notable exception of Trinidad & Tobago) have subsequently tumbled across the region, including Barbados.
China may appear to have everything under control right now but as we saw last year in CWC2007 one unplanned for event (after all these are games - things happen) can set in motion dramatic changes down the road. That event may have already happened in Beijing.