It was 2001, Beijing was trembling in anticipation of receiving a visit from the representatives of the International Olympic Committee which had to decide which one Chinese capital, Toronto, Paris, Istanbul and Osaka was more worthy to host the games.
China strongly wanted to win the assignment and therefore deployed all the forces it had in the field.
I was not very interested in geopolitics at the time.
In Beijing, I was in charge of L&Y Partners, a consulting company that I managed with my partner and which was mainly involved in helping Italian wine producers to enter the market in the middle country.
However, even if I was not interested in the matter, I could not fail to notice the turmoil that was around.
The TV spoke of nothing else. People talked about nothing else.
I followed a Chinese search engine called Sohu and I followed it because it had its own version in English.
As mentioned above, it didn't interest me much but one day I was struck by a fact:
At the time, Beijing was a megalopolis that was basically fueled by coal.
The traffic is devastating and intense as it can be in a society that is getting motorized all at once.
Can you imagine what the air must have been like? The sky?
The pollution was so strong that when I returned home in the evening I felt the need to wash my nose and when I blew it, it came out (forgive me), BLACK stuff!
So imagine the state of the flower beds and small pieces of lawn in the city.
All this would certainly not have made a good impression on the representatives of the IOC (International Olympic Committee)...
Well, I don't want to give you any knowledge of the titanic efforts made by the administration to make Beijing "adequate" to the need but I would like to underline two "facts" that struck me:
For the hedges and the squares of lawn near the buildings: with my eyes I saw workers spray green paint on them!
Easy for flower beds ... but the sky?
Well, factories were closed, coal plants blocked, circulation was restricted and street food was stopped!
Yes, the Chinese love to cook and buy food on the street.
One of the most popular foods are skewers of sheep meat curiously very similar to the traditional Abruzzese kebabs.
These meat are cooked on small charcoal-fed barbeques and once cooked in a mixture of spices and chilli.
They are accompanied with sautéed vegetables (such as green beans but cold), and are really excellent, especially if accompanied by a fresh draft beer.
But being coal-fired they were no good and therefore were prohibited in those days.
From night to day. Gone!
In short, in one way or another during the days of the visit, the sky appeared a passable blue.
The challenge was won
On the occasion of the games, Beijing managed to amaze the world, not so much with the grandeur of the inaugural ceremony as with the image it gave of a modern city and also with the architectural daring of some buildings, above all the famous stadium called "The bird's nest. ".
GO BEYOND THE WALL