Inside China: Beijing changes its spitting image

There are just 33 days to go before it all kicks off, and all Beijing needs is a bit of spit and polish. Well, perhaps not quite so much spit. That's something which the Chinese government is trying hard to eradicate. It's an old Chinese custom to clear the throat lustily and let fly with the sputum but, conscious of the sensitivity of visiting westerners – not to mention hygiene issues – a campaign to put a stop to public expectoration seems to be working. As for the polish, well there's barely a venue remaining that needs more than a final lick of paint before what is certain to be the most lavish and spectacular of Olympic Games begins. But not all is plain sailing. A frantic clean-up operation is going on out at sea in Qingdao, where Britain's yachties are expected to win a fistful of medals. The competition is threatened by an invasion of green algae. And while the lattice-like Bird's Nest Stadium is ready for the opening ceremony, the atmosphere around it remains suspiciously smog-like, despite intense efforts to clear the pollution. Will we be asking if this is what they mean by Bird's Nest soup?

Chinese open up but how long will it last?

Sympathetic reaction to the Szechuan earthquake and its aftermath muted much of the criticism over the Free Tibet and human rights issues which have dominated the build-up to Beijing. China has shown an openness which, the International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge says, would not have happened but for the Games. Will it last? The evidence of the Torch Relay here is that security, with 100,000 police and troops on high alert, will be oppressive and visitors' movements restricted. The Chinese are not so much inscrutable as inflexible.

Good spot for Daley to do homework

No need for schoolboy Tom Daley – who has been dubbed Phenomo-Tom by his mate and mentor Leon Taylor, the Olympic silver medallist – to miss out on his homework when he comes to China. Before the Games he'll be based with the British diving squad in Xi'an, once the ancient capital, 800 miles from Beijing and one of the birthplaces of Chinese civilisation. There's a 6,000-year history lesson on tap for the 14-year-old Daley – a period spanning 13 dynasties and 73 emperors – and a visit to the famously excavated Terracotta Army is surely worth an essay. Xi'an also happens to be the diving capital of China. Daley (pictured) may be our Phenomo-Tom but the Chinese reckon they have half a dozen water-babes like him waiting in the wings.

Coming clean over the doping question

Beijing has spent more than £7.6 billion in an attempt to clean up the city but just as significant is China coming clean over drugs-taking among its competitors. Positive tests on two swimmers and a triathlete have not only eliminated three potential Olympic medal-winners but given the world another example of their new openness. Hitherto the suspicion had been that drug abuse was widespread but conveniently covered up. Now with the IOC's new anytime, anywhere testing laws in place, the Chinese are desperate to avoid the sort of pre-Olympics scandal that blighted the Athens Games for the Greeks.

Oh deer! Not only Viagra gives a lift

The IOC need to move swiftly if they are to ban Viagra, now claimed to stiffen the winning urge among athletes, for it is readily available across the counter in China. One herbalist just outside the Olympic Village recommends another product which he says also aids performance and rapid recovery from injury: dessicated deer's penis.

Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect