Even though the Olympics have long been know as the world’s games, much of Beijing is paying little attention to the this summer’s rendition in Rio. Many of the city’s sports bars and other venues plan to show the games on their TV’s, but are mostly refraining from the major discounts and other big promotions that were a hallmark of numerous recent sporting events like the Euro Cup and even the Super Bowl.
Many local bars showed the opening ceremonies (which took place this morning at 7am), among them Paddy O’Shea's, Cuju, and Caravan. But many venues are opting to show reruns of the games, or learning towards not bothering with them at all.
An example of the latter is The Garage. General manager Glenn Phelan says “the timing is a bit rough,” and though he is open to customer requests to show the games, he doubts he’ll be that the demand will be high. “Not one customer has asked if we re showing it. I don’t think anyone cares that much for it… especially this time of year, with schools starting back up.”
Meanwhile, Badr Benjelloun, owner of Cuju and Caravan, is also taking a tepid approach to the games, saying: “we’ll take everything else one step at a time,” citing the time difference that’ll result in most of the events being broadcast very early in the morning in Beijing time. Benjelloun says he’ll serve cachaca style Brazilian cocktails for the occasion, but there’ll be “nothing over the top” in terms of drink specials.
Paddy O’Shea's, one of the city’s hottest sports bars, is a bit more enthusiastic, though its staff hasn’t quite caught Olympic fever. The Dongzhimen pub’s owner and general manager, Paul, says: “As everything will be on super early, we will open on demand” to show the games, before suggesting that anyone interested in watching should try to form groups of fellow Olympic enthusiasts and call ahead. Sports fans who live further afield from capital’s nightlife core might instead opt for screenings at The Westin Beijing Financial Street’s Zen Garden, according to a statement from the owners, will turn into “an authentic Sports bar, the perfect venue to live the passion of this exciting event with draft beer, a wild selection of refreshing beverages and an outstanding food menu to complement the event.” It went on to say that anyone interested should call ahead for more details.
A rep at Plan B— the ever popular Shuangjing watering hole— says the venue will show the games on all three of its screens, but has no other plans to mark the occasion. Nearby bar The Brick also plans to show the games during normal business hours, and a rep there says it will have discounts and promotions that are yet to be determined (we’ll update in the comments section when that is sorted). The Irish Volunteer and The Local both plan to screen any reruns that play during their regular business hours, but have no plans to open early for live broadcasts.
However, such a citywide ambivalent reception shouldn’t be all that surprising, given the controversy that has swirled around this summer’s games. A recent Associated Press article cited “Pre-Olympics media reports about the Zika virus, polluted water and political unrest in Brazil” as prime examples, before quoting broadcaster NBC, which insists there’s no such thing as bad publicity and that all the uproar has kept the event in the headline, thus raising awareness and boosting its ratings prospects. This prompted another news outlet, The Daily Beast, to run an article with the headline “NBC Defends the Rio Olympics Shit Show.” Only time will tell if Beijingers will eventually have a more positive spin on the sporting event.
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