Bill Kauffman Blog for Aug. 2 - Media Draw

Aug. 03, 2008, 8:21 a.m. (ET)

Aug. 2, 2008

Responding to Media Requests
Saturday morning was a time to catch up on e-mails. The sheer volume of e-mails needing responses has quickened in pace since arriving in Beijing.

Along with e-mail, the USOC has provided to the press officers cell phones that function in China as a means to communicate with media covering the Games, whether here in China or back in the United States. The cell phones provide a huge assistance in setting interviews while on the go and away from the computer.

However, I am now rethinking the choice of my personal cell phone that I bought this summer. It would have made life so much easier if I had chosen a phone with international capability so that I can access my e-mails through the phone.

In just three short months after purchasing the phone, I became addicted to having the ability to view my work and personal e-mails through my phone’s data plan while back in the United States. I feel lost without that now as I must once again be connected through the computer to read the e-mails. Just having the ability to use the phone for its original purpose, in addition to retrieving e-mails and viewing web pages, would make me more efficient in this position.

Paparazzi and Fans
Media Surround the exit point of Beijing Airport's international arrivals area. Photo copyrighted by USA VolleyballThrough my two-plus years working at USA Volleyball, I have heard countless stories about Lang Ping’s legendary status as a retired player and active coaching hero in her homeland of China. According to the stories, fans old and young alike flock around her for autographs and a moment to say hello when she hits the public trail in China. In some cases, it is a media frenzy that engulfs the “Iron Hammer” for the chance to take a picture and interview this country’s equivalent to Michael Jordan.

On Saturday afternoon, I actually got a chance to see this for myself. The U.S. Women’s Olympic Team flew in from San Francisco, arriving in Beijing a little after 2 p.m. Just outside of the secured area where international arrivals exit, television cameras formed a greeting wall at the end of a partitioned corridor that provided little resistance to eager fans. In addition, countless still photographers hovered around the scene as Lang Ping fans lined up several deep around the outskirts of the area.

As several other U.S. Olympians reached the impromptu media setup, more and more folks seemed antsy for Lang Ping and her American Olympians’ arrival. Among the arrivals on the flight was U.S. Olympic Beach Team Leader Ali Wood. Some of the new arrivals, already dazed by the 12-hour flight, seemed bewildered by the media spectacle that they were walking into.

Nearly two hours after landing and just about all the 747 occupants already passed by, a change of plans occurred to help counteract a full-fledged press conference on the open floor of the Beijing Airport that could easily have disrupted the flow partner of other arrivals.

It was decided that the volleyball team and its coaching staff minus Lang Ping would come out together as a group and go immediately to the bus loading area. Meanwhile, Lang Ping would exit the domestic arrival section of the terminal just a few hundred feet away and avoid the major spotlight.

Surprised airport passengers in that section of the terminal seemed to have a shocked look on their faces to see up-close a legend returning to their country for the Olympic Games. Without much attention, Lang Ping was able to go down the escalators to the bus ramp before being met up by a small group of reporters. After responding to a couple questions from reporters, she hopped on the bus providing sanctuary and a chance to enjoy the arrival to China with her team.

The press officers have already learned that it will be a near miracle if we get a chance to attend the Opening Ceremonies due to high demand for the tickets coupled with the scarcity of tickets available.

However, Saturday night we were treated to an exterior showcase of what to expect at the Opening Ceremonies. All through the night, we kept hearing sporadic fireworks going off at the Main Press Center (MPC). As we departed the MPC, traffic of all varieties - cars, bicycle and foot – seemed much heavier than previous nights, especially for just after 10 p.m.

Less than a quarter mile away from the MPC, traffic in all but one lane was practically at a stand-still due to people standing on the expressway. All of sudden, fireworks started shooting off from the National Stadium (dubbed the Birds Nest) to the crowd’s delight. And it was not just the sporadic fireworks that boomed while at the MPC. This time the fireworks provided a dazzling show of color and design like I have never seen before.

We learned that this was the second and final dress rehearsal for the Opening Ceremonies. If what we saw just lighting up the sky is any indication of the Opening Ceremonies, everyone inside the stadium and those watching the event on television will be in for a treat. For a photo gallery of the event, click here.