Getting In on the Action

Editor's Note: Jodi Noffsinger, an American living in Beijing, is filing regular updates on the scene at the Olympics in The Beijing Blonde column on

Because it had been so quiet in my neighborhood over the weekend, I was beginning to feel left out here in Beijing. My Olympic tickets are for events later this week and next, so after three days of watching it all from home, I couldn't stand to be missing out on another minute of the excitement.

With the help of a last-minute ticket agent, I found myself watching a boxing event live today. When I said Beijing felt subdued, I certainly wasn't referring to the Olympic venues as my experience today proved. Even though it wasn't a big-ticket event, I was thrilled to be seeing things up close.

Arriving at the boxing venue, Beijing's Workers' Gymnasium, was surprisingly smooth. My cab driver knew exactly which entrance to drop me off, which in Beijing is no easy feat. And I breezed through a well-organized and managed security line just a few minutes after the featherweight preliminaries had started.

However, not surprising was having a line-cutting Chinese guy jump in front of me. This happens all the time in Beijing despite recent efforts from Beijing's Olympic organizers to educate Chinese on proper queuing etiquette. The difference this time was that this man was reprimanded and asked to stand at the end of the three-person line — a welcomed first for me. No one enforces the concept of orderly lines here, whether it's at the supermarket, getting on a subway or hailing a cab at a taxi stand.

I was also impressed with the number of volunteers on hand to keep the venue running smoothly. If there's one thing China has lot of, it's people. It felt like for every few steps I took, I was greeted by yet another volunteer sporting a blue "Beijing 2008" shirt, happily greeting me:

"Hello. This way please."

Chaotic is often a word I use to describe outings in Beijing, whether it's traffic, people, you name it. Sometimes nothing feels easy. And if anything, I figured the Olympics would bring with it even more chaos, but today I was amazed how well they pulled this off. If only every day in Beijing could be this easy...

Inside the gymnasium, the sounds of "Zhong Guo Jia You," (Go China!) chants greeted me as China boxer Li Yang was about to win the opening bout. Lucky for me, I was seated right next to one of five cheering squads banging their inflatable clappers.

Chinese also surrounded me on all sides, which was perfect for people watching. From what I saw and heard they were all very into it. From cheering for China, Russia, the USA, to learning more about the sport they knew little about before, to spotting all the different countries represented from flag-waving fans. They were simply taking in all the excitement of the games, still in awe and quite proud that China is playing host to the world.