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Countdown to Beijing

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

134 Days until Opening Ceremonies

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TOILET UPROAR

Americans planning to travel to Beijing for the Olympics should take comfort in the fact that the threat of terrorism likely will be low, according to the State Department.

Because they won't find much comfort elsewhere.

There is a dramatic shortage of western-style toilets, an Olympic official admitted last week, meaning Olympic visitors might be faced with many squat-style lavatories (read: holes in the ground). And there is this, too: Beijing visitors cannot be assured that their hotel rooms won't be monitored (read: bugged) by the Chinese government, according to the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs.

After the San Diego Padres played the Los Angeles Dodgers at the new Olympic baseball venue about 10 days ago, the issue of squat toilets hit the fan, with Yao Hui, the deputy director of venue management for the Beijing organizing committee, saying, "We have asked the venues to improve on this, to increase the number of sit-down toilets."

There will apparently be no improving upon the latter concern. In a public advisory from the State Department last week, government officials urged Americans, basically, to deal with it. "All hotel rooms and offices are considered to be subject to on-site or remote technical monitoring at all times," the release said. "Hotel rooms, residences and offices may be accessed at any time without the occupant's consent or knowledge."

CALENDAR

Date Event (Site)
Sunday Track -- world cross-country championships (Edinburgh, Scotland)
April 2-12 Soccer -- women's qualifying (Mexico)
April 5-6 Taekwondo -- final fight-offs (Des Moines)
April 16-20 Diving -- spring nationals (Minneapolis)
April 19 Triathlon -- U.S. trials (Tuscaloosa, Ala.)
April 20 Marathon -- U.S. women's trials (Boston)

-- Amy Shipley


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