From The Associated Press:
My friend, Taylor, who is visiting from America has been surprised at how much Olympic-related stuff (propoganda?) is still floating around China.
BEIJING (AP) — Just five months after the Beijing Olympics, the Bird's Nest is a cavernous museum searching for a new purpose.
The iconic National Stadium drew acclaim for its daring design, an engineering marvel that borders on sculpture. Now it draws about 10,000 tourists a day — mostly Chinese — who pay 50 yuan (about $7) to walk on the stadium floor, then climb through the expensive seats to a souvenir shop hawking pricey mementos recalling Zhang Yimou's dazzling opening ceremony or the three world records set by Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt.
A symbol of China's rising power and confidence, the stadium may never recoup the $450 million the government spent to build it, particularly as China's economic slump worsens.It has yet to draw big-ticket events, has no permanent tenant, and only one date has been announced for this year. Puccini's opera "Turandot," directed by Zhang, is set for Aug. 8 — the one-year anniversary of the Olympics' opening ceremony.
The TV on the bus we were riding the other day had a cartoon of the five Olympic mascots in a fantasy cartoon program with flying dragons and lizards. Their likeness can be seen on billboards and in street artwork everywhere too.
Based on the amount of merchandise and images you see of the characters, you'd never believe that the games ended almost half a year ago.
It is a shame that nothing can be done with the Bird's Nest. Despite having a population of over 10 million people, Beijing, sadly, doesn't have anything to put in the stadium permanently.
Coming from Kansas City, a city in middle-America of about 2 million people that over the past fifteen years has managed to put 75,000 people into its football stadium several times a year, I think that Beijing's inability to find anything to put into the stadium reflects poorly on the state of the city's, and probably the country's, civil society.
But of course I may just be reading too much into the Nest's perma-emptiness. It does seem to be flourishing as a tourist trap.