Farewell, bubble. A kind of relief has been floating in the air for the past few days for the participants in the Beijing Games, happy to return home and leave the daily constraints and frustrations involved in life under a bell in China. The first of them being perhaps that of seeing the Great Wall every day, only a few hundred meters away, without ever being able to approach it.
→ ANALYSIS. Beijing Olympics: the end of the Games locked in their bubble
But in the bubble, there are also these comical situations, each more absurd than the other, these great moments of laughter which made the salt of these Olympic Games like no other. This tenth and final column is dedicated to them.
The last weekend of the Games was marked by a few festivities, which contrast with the strict protocol applied during the fortnight. As the athletes had no place to party inside the Olympic Village, they sometimes went to the hotels in the other bubble, that of the delegations and journalists. Which, in some cases, are provided with bars.
→ CHRONICLE. Beijing Olympics: in the bubble, pin fever
In Zhangjiakou on Saturday, one of them was filled with French sportsmen. Tricolor biathletes had to negotiate with a ” astronaut “, these agents in full suits, to be able to take control of the music and stop the broadcast of the national channel CCTV5, projected on the wall.
It was also an opportunity to see a Frenchman from another discipline try to pay at the counter with… one of the gold medals gleaned by the French delegation in China. He advances to the cash register and presents the precious 500-gram object to the bank terminal. Behind the plexiglass window, the bartender in a white jumpsuit and visor has her eyes flabbergasted. Polite refusal. You will have to take out the credit card.
Snow is so rare in Zhangjiakou that everyone is on a war footing as soon as it shows up. Thursday evening, it fell abundantly on the roundabout in front of the ZPC, the main press center.
→ CHRONICLE. Beijing Olympics: in the Olympic TGV
Very quickly, agents were activated to repel the snowflakes using bamboo brooms, others scraped the road with shovels. As soon as it was removed, the white coat was deposited again. A ballet interrupted at each bus arrival, then resumed immediately. Under the hilarious gaze of journalists. “It’s the myth of Sisyphus”let go of the Swiss colleagues.
Bing Dwen Dwen
This weekend, I ran into a strange line outside the usually empty press center post office. Chinese journalists and volunteers huddled together, large boxes in hand, to be able to send the contents of these packages to their loved ones. Inside, the famous figurines of Bing Dwen Dwen, the panda mascot of the Games. Some had their arms full of it.
→ REPORT. Beijing Olympics: daunting conditions to finish the Games
In the small store upstairs, a warning written in marker on a white board: “Bing Dwen Dwen will be restocked tomorrow, each person should limit themselves to a maximum of two purchases per day. » A new kind of scarcity.
Life in pink
The striking image of these Games is also the sympathy of these thousands of young volunteers who help us to decipher the subtleties of the bubble, give us a heater in the mixed zone when we are walking in the extreme cold, try a few words in French when they know it. A showcase of which the organizing committee is extremely proud. Friday evening, during a small ceremony of the French committee, a Chinese volunteer interpreted Life in pinkin almost perfect French.
→ CHRONICLE. Beijing Olympics: the sacrifices of Chinese volunteers
And even behind the suits of the astronauts, we detect smiles. And sometimes tired. Like the sleeping young man sitting on the verge of falling out of his chair in the lobby of my hotel. The second he hears me pass through the security gate, he’s already on his feet to pass the metal detector. It would not be a question of compromising with the rules of the bubble.