Such a spectacular display of the greatest advances across industries! And I’m glad to see the Bird’s Nest architecturally reflect an Asian context.
Photo courtesy of http://en.beijing2008.cn/ Official Beijing 2008 site
Asian culture, its arts and legacy, is beautiful, that it’s disappointing to see the westernisation of Asia– particularly in Bangkok and other major cities. Phnom Penh itself is exemplifying rapid westernisation and eradication of its heritage. Local officials in ill-fitting western suits and ties often arrive at meetings, and villagers trade in their more useful kromas (all-purpose scarves) in favor of mass-produced generic garbs branded by company logos. And then there’s Hong Kong with its otherwise pretty harbour skyline so totally marred by the marquees and billboards advertising major corporations on top of nearly every building. How is this allowed to happen, to dismiss Asia’s beauty in favor of European notions of class or for capitalistic ideals?
Asians ourselves play a huge part in this. Hordes of students flock to study ballet and master the harps and bass, meanwhile Cambodian artists are hard-pressed to even pay young kids to learn their own elegant classical dances. Ever seen ciseauzs performed in classical ballet pieces by Asian dancers? This music was not created for the shorter bodies and legs, and therefore stretch, of an Asian. While it’s beautiful to see nevertheless, it’s disappointing that western culture is more valued by Asians than our own rich heritage.
On the one hand I appreciate the vast growth and potential I’m witnessing in Asia/SE Asia. And on the other, the various aspects of its politics and culture make it difficult to be entirely supportive of its (and especially China’s) inevitable rise. There’s a balance that still hasn’t been achieved– the pace of change is happening fast. Western ideals of self-actualisation and governance has a place in Asia’s growth, and it’s possible to adopt other philosophies of progress, without Asians having to drop our cultural heritage and roots.
Anyway, I digrees. Here’s a look at the medal counts of participating countries throughout the history of the modern Olympics.