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Beijing Watch

Notes from the week past and ahead

Beijing watch: Olympic notes from the week past and ahead

In Japan, Brendan Hansen, above, is seen as America’s best, even over Michael Phelps.

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In Japan, Brendan Hansen, above, is seen as America’s best, even over Michael Phelps.

Modern comforts

The Chinese government isn't focusing on just the big issues — pollution, an algae invasion, dissent crackdowns — to make Olympic visitors' quality of life Disney-like. It cares about the little things, too. For example, it has told staffers in karaoke bars and nightclubs that skimpy clothing must be avoided to fight prostitution and drug use during the Games. A program has been successfully launched to help citizens improve their manners, the official Xinhua news agency reports. And Beijing has spent about $2.2-million to upgrade toilets in public parks. According to a park administration guideline, all the toilets will be cleaned, repainted and equipped with free soap, tissue, hand dryers, ultraviolet disinfection lamps, diaper tables and seats for people waiting in line to use them.

Native matters

Not all track fans are excited about the United States having a shot at winning the 5,000 meters for the first time since 1964. Bernard Lagat, who won the event (and the 1,500) at the Olympic trials, was the silver medalist in '04 for his native Nigeria. But he was also a naturalized U.S. citizen at the time and didn't tell anyone, and some are holding a grudge that Lagat chose to run for Nigeria. Now, they say, he's running for the United States because he knows he's not good enough to make the Nigerian team. "The best thing that could happen for me is winning the gold for the United States," Lagat said in an interview in the spring. "Being an American is not something I'm going to take lightly. When I took that oath, I meant every piece of it."

Number of the week

800 Variety of international dishes to be served in the Athletes Village dining hall by American caterer Aramark. As usual, the village will also have a McDonald's.

What they're saying

The world warms up for the Games:

"If you ask anybody in Japan to name the best American swimmer they know, I'd say they'd name Brendan Hansen."

Izumi Shiraishi, of Japanese TV network Asahi Corp., on the breaststroke rivalry between Olympian Hansen and Japan's Kosuke Kitajima

"Apparently our crystal ball was malfunctioning. Late last year we forecast the beginning of a China boom around this time (because of the Olympics). … Residents of Japan, in fact, appear not in the mood to readily enjoy things Chinese. … Still, Japanese will likely be glued to their TVs during the Olympic swimming competition."

— editorial in Japan's Nikkei Weekly

"There are 33 days until the start of the Beijing Olympics, and they should be a precious time of dreaming and optimism. Dwain Chambers has guaranteed they will be filled with rancor and discord."

— commentary on July 6 in Britain's Sunday Express on the legal effort by sprinter Chambers, who won the 100 meters at the U.K. trials on Saturday, to get his drug-related ban from the Games overturned

Cycling's best hope wins big at juniors

Taylor Phinney won a gold medal Saturday. Another might be coming his way soon. Phinney, the phenom from Boulder, Colo., became a two-time junior world champion, winning the 3,000-meter individual pursuit in Cape Town, South Africa.

He won the junior men's road time trial last year before turning his attention to the track, and he'll be the U.S. men's best hope for a medal at the Games. Phinney, 18, will race the 4,000-meter individual pursuit in Beijing. First comes a chance for more junior world gold: He'll ride the omnium and points race next week.

Phinney inherited an Olympic legacy from his parents: His father, Davis Phinney, was an Olympian and a stage winner at the Tour de France, and his mother, Connie Carpenter-Phinney, won Olympic gold in '84.

Sharon Fink, Times staff writer; Times wires

.Coming up

Events of note

on the calendar:

• Baseball, roster due Tuesday

• Basketball, final three spots in men's field determined at qualifying tournament Monday-July 20, Athens, Greece.

• Equestrian, teams announced Tuesday

• Gymnastics, women's selection camp to fill final four sports on U.S. team, Wednesday-July 20, Houston.

On TV

• Beach volleyball, Chicago Open women's final, 1:30 p.m. today, Ch. 8

• Water polo, U.S. vs. Australia, women's exhibition, noon today (taped), MSNBC

Beijing watch: Olympic notes from the week past and ahead 07/12/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 3:38pm]
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