While I was completely out of the loop for the 2004 Olympic games in Athens (I was finishing up my summer in NYC, commuting 2 hours each way to work during the first week and then dealing with first week of school (and my last semester ever) issues the second week), I do remember the 2008 games in Beijing. I was living and working in Sydney, which was like beyond perfect. I was in a sports-mad country living with people that actually could give Americans a run for their money in many sports! I would have felt kind of depressed, kicking ass and taking names (the Aussies thought this saying was hilarious!!) if I was still living in New Zealand during the games. It was all around a very interesting experience.
Everything pretty much took place in nearly the same time zone. There was very little recapping as Sydney is only 2 hours ahead of Beijing. AWESOME! But since a lot of the sports were set to American East Coast time, I remember there being issues with swimming as usually the main events take place at night, but so they could be broadcasted live to the east coast, somehow NBC struck a deal with the IOC to have them in the morning, so they could play live. Which meant they aired around lunchtime for us. Not the worst thing ever, as the job I was working had a TV in the lounge and it was on the entire day and people would gather for a few moments here and there to watch certain events.
Also, being the minor huge media nerd I am, I remember Channel 7 (the station that covered the games back then) having reports on the US coverage. It’s like NBC was its own event! They talked about how much space NBC took up, how many employees they brought over and the security measures in place for NBC and only NBC. It’s something that obviously does not get covered in the US and very interesting to hear.
It was weird watching events without Americans. I don’t think NBC has ever done that. And actually, back in 2008 the only event there were no Americans in was like girls handball or something. Something I did miss, was the montage packages. No one can put a spin on any story like the US. I missed that! I cheered for countries in the following order: US (it was nice to have some patriotic pride after a year and a half!), Australia and then New Zealand.
A few weeks after the games ended, all the Australian Olympians went on a national tour of the country, doing parades in each state capital city where a variety showed up for each. Ohmigod, could you image if they had to do that in the US?! It would take like a year! Anyway, since by then I was unemployed, I went to the parade in Sydney. Super fun! I actually recognized some people I had seen on TV a few weeks prior up close in person and actually remembered their names! And funny enough, watching the games now, I am like, those names are still sounding familiar. Love it.
Moral: If given the chance, I would highly recommend watching The Olympics in a country other then your own (especially if you are from the US). You learn a lot and get another perspective of a worldwide event. Just another life experience that you can not get within your own borders.