Gimme Shelter

Another Olympic session I attended was on 21 August at Workers Stadium, which is an easy walk from where I live. It was the two final games of Women’s Football. D and I walked up to Sanlitun for a meal before the matches, then walked to the North Gate of the Stadium, where a number of restaurants and clubs with prime locations were closed for the duration. All of them were actually outside the security fence, but were apparently considered to risky to allow open while events were going on.

It was a drizzly day, so we both had umbrellas. Mine folded down to a small size, but D’s Olympic mascot umbrella was too long, so we ended up going back out and taking it home. We did see people inside with full-length umbrellas, so it seems the security rule was inconsistently applied.

The second time round security was just fine, and we found ourselves in the wonderful confines of Workers Stadium. This is one of the old facilities that was “remodeled” for the Olympics, but it’s still pretty much an outdated pile of junk. It has no covered concourses, so all of the concession stands and entrances to restrooms are exposed to the elements. The rows are rather steeply pitched and much too close together for comfortable passing, a fact which is made worse by the size of the sections. They’re about 40 seats wide and only have an aisle on one side – the other side has a railing to separate it from the next section. Approximately every minute and a half throughout the whole evening we had to stand up to let someone pass. No one in our row seemed capable of simply watching the game. They had to take the kids out, get some refreshments or whatever.
First up was some entertainment from a Cheer Squad (or whatever they prefer to be called). Gotta love the outfits for this routine.
Yes, they’re wearing cat ears, and you can’t tell from this shot, but they have tails too.
I found a video of them on Youtoube:

After a while they were joined by a bunch of Fuwa and dancers in other outfits. Towards the end of the routine, Beibei (the blue one) started deflating and had to be rushed off for medical attention.

The Bronze Medal match was between Germany and Japan.
Ever since the Women’s World Cup last year, I’ve kind of had a grudge against Germany, and was really glad when Brazil beat them here in the Olympics, reversing the result of last year’s title match. That, plus my general love of most things Japanese, and I was rooting for the women in blue. They started out very strong, dominating the play in the first half and narrowly missing some scoring opportunities. Germany just couldn’t pull it together.

We noticed that as the game progressed, the Chinese crowd grew more and more partisan, booing loudly every time Japan so much as touched the ball, and cheering when Germany had the ball. I don’t know if that had any impact on the outcome, but while Japan continued to play solidly, Germany got a couple of lucky breaks and managed to score twice, taking the Bronze.

In between matches, more dance routines and mascots:
A flag squad came out, and at first I thought it was just the presentation of the colors for the Gold Medal match.
But they did a pretty elaborate choreographed routine with the American and Brazilian flags, along with some Olympic flags. You can see how wet it was – I felt sorry for the dancers whose moves put them onto the ground.

The match was pretty even, finishing scoreless at the half.
At the half we had dirt-bike races on the field for entertainment.
The remaining regular time also went scoreless.
To be honest (call me un-American if you like), but by the time we went into the two 15-minute overtime periods, I would have been happy to see either team score. As it was, the US did, taking the Gold.

For once, getting out of a venue and home was a breeze, though it looked like those who didn’t live within walking distance may have had more of a challenge, as Gongti Beilu (the street on the north side of the stadium) was jammed solid with cars, buses and taxis as far as we could see in both directions.

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