It's been a seriously busy week for this Beijing Olympics blogger but we're back in action and looking forward to the next two months, which will undoubtedly be filled with much pre-Olympics press, hand-wringing, and overall concern for how China is going to finally handle the pressure of hosting the Olympics when it all comes down to those final moments before the opening ceremony. Interest in the Games and all of the potential stories both on and off the playing field has never been higher, as far as I can tell. What will the next two months be like? Let's just say "eventful" - whatever happens, it's going to be a great story and a very telling one about how China is likely to act as a full member of the world community.
Today, though, the best story out of China continues to be perhaps its greatest international ambassador, the thoroughly un-political Yao Ming. Yesterday in Houston, Yao announced the launch of the Yao Ming Foundation, which is geared towards helping the rebuilding of schools destroyed by the Sichuan earthquake in May. A few weeks ago I was asked to write a story for SI China on the criticism Yao was receiving inside China for not having given "enough" to the earthquake relief funds - he contributed 2 million renminbi (RMB), around $286,000, but that wasn't enough to satisfy some inside China who thought as a multi-millionaire he should give much more. At the time, Yao's China-based agent, Erik Zhang, told me that Yao was planning something more, geared specifically towards the rebuilding effort. Yesterday those plans became a reality. In the midst of recuperating from his surgery and building towards his own participation in the Beijing Olympics, the fact that Yao took time out to set up a foundation in support of the children affected by the earthquake is - let's just say it - damn cool.