And the question remains, who will "win" the Olympics. Oh, I know, guys like Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics, believed that "the important thing is not to win, but to take part." But in more recent years the Olympics have been led by swell fellas like Juan Antonio Samaranch, the falangist apologist for the Franco regime in Spain. He was all about Olympic glory, and it's all due to him that this year we need an asterisk in the standings.
As a jingoistic American, I question China's lead in the gold medal standings and likely top finish in the overall count. And I'm not talking about the nine-year-old gymnasts, either. Rather, I'm talking about those entertainment set pieces that Samaranch put in the Games, things like rhythmic gymnastics and synchronized swimming and diving. (Click here for a link to the medal winners by year, with year of introduction of the event.) Now, I grant you that those events (and, dare we say it during Beijing 2008, beer, er, ping pong) take skill and fitness, but they lack the sustained endurance necessary to qualify, from the perspective of my armchair, as a true sport worthy of a medal, such as the marquee events like track and field and individual swimming and diving as well as more sparsely-attended events like rowing and the sweet science of boxing. And it's not just areas where the Chinese may rack up the score. The keirin track cycling race is fun to watch, and those crazy European dudes spin like mad, but when your whole race comes down to 6.5 seconds of energy, that's show biz not sport.