So, today I went along to the Beijing International Media Center, a smartly refurbished hotel taken over for the Olympics, to pick up my journalist’s accreditation card. It soon became apparent just how far the Chinese authorities are pulling out the stops for these games.
I went for my card, but I got given a whole lot more. At the 2004 Athens games, if I remember rightly, I got a card and a free pen at the press center. Today my card came with a goody-bag that my paper’s ethics committee would probably want me to report to the IRS, or hand back in embarrassment.
It was a goody-backpack, in fact, a smart black number made by Kappa (an Olympics sponsor, natch) and decorated in gold with the company’s logo (a silhouette of two women sitting back to back). Inside I found:
A lime-green and silver fold-up umbrella
A nifty little card, the size of a credit card but marginally thicker, with a slimline USB plug on a pullout metal tab, which is both a 2G flashcard and provides instant access to the BIMC website when I plug it into my computer
A man-sized fan decorated with requisite Chinese artwork
A universal adapter allowing me to plug anything into a Chinese wall (a good idea, that, for visiting foreign reporters)
A mobile phone SIM card already charged with $7.50 worth of calls and instructions on how to access the BIMC’s daily schedule of press events
A small flask of Feng You Jing Essential Balm, an emerald green oil which when rubbed into the temples has “effect of cooling, soothing pains, expelling wind evil (???) stopping itch” according to the instructions
A white large-billed baseball cap (emblazoned with "2008 BIMC" on the front – I am dubious about the fashion value of this item)
A white Lacoste-style shirt to match (only it’s a Kappa model)
A map of Beijing
A large notebook
Two 2008 BIMC lapel pins
And a pen. They must have pinched that idea from the Greeks.