Last night we went to our token Olympic event, and it was a lot of fun. We paid 52 kuai for our tickets ($8), and that was good for two games (USA vs. Japan and Nigeria vs. Holland). Click the photos to see bigger sizes.
Security was well-organized, smooth, fast, and thorough. Cheerful, upbeat Chinglish-speaking volunteers were everywhere. Legions of security guards (mostly the friendly-looking, polo-shirted kind) saturated the place, inside and outside the stadium. Volunteers physically searched Jessica’s purse before we got near the metal detectors. You couldn’t bring outside food or drinks into the stadium (Jessica smuggled in plums); everyone had to give up their contraband stuff on the way in, which in Tianjin meant plastic barrels full of drink bottles and cucumbers:
Inside was a fun atmosphere despite the heat and humidity, which you could see in the lights. We sweated the entire time. Turns out that two of my language practice students from last semester (local university students studying to be Chinese teachers) were Olympic volunteers. Giant inflated Fuwa mascots were walking around for photos, volunteers gave out free inflatable noise-makers to everyone.
Computer-generated Fuwas danced on the screen and gave no-smoking announcements, and one of the security guards in our section actually made a guy put out his cigarette! I never thought I’d see that in Tianjin. Full marks for the security guys!
By the second game it was nearly full. We tried to get tickets to Saturday’s China vs. Canada match – which would have totally rocked – but they were sold out. We just now got back from spending over 4 HOURS sitting and sweating on little Chinese-style folding stools that the old guys use watching the Opening Ceremonies on a big screen in the park along with a few thousand other people. We’ll have photos and video of that up tomorrow.