China: Can Olympic gold last?
It has relied on a massive – and expensive – sports system to dominate the Beijing Games's gold-medal count.
The host nation is set to win the gold-medal table. By the time the Games end Sunday, it may near the Soviet Union's record of 55 golds in a nonboycotted Olympics, set in 1988.
Yet the triumph has come at great cost. China's centralized sports system is expansive and expensive. With little of a grass-roots sports culture here, the government must maintain or even increase its funding to stay on top.
China must decide whether to pull back now that it's won its hometown Games or use this success as a foundation for more. Its decision could shape the medal table for years to come.