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The case for Rio 2016

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We're still a year away from learning who will host the 2016 Summer Olympics. But, while Beijing is fresh in our minds, I thought it'd be high time to consider the lessons and legacies of the 2008 games with an eye on the future.

If we learned one thing from Beijing 2008, it's that the Olympics are a perfect pretext for a massive security crackdown. So why not award the 2016 games to a city that could actually use a massive security crackdown?  

The murder rate in the state of Rio de Janiero is down to 39 per 100,000, from a high of 64 per 100,000 people in the mid-1990s. That's still high, and one still encounters machine guns while browsing shopping stalls. Some think meditation may do the trick, but an Olympic effort to crack down on petty crime (not political opposition, mind you) could do wonders.

The other finalist host cities are Chicago, Tokyo, and Madrid. The United States recently hosted in 2002 and 1996, Japan in 2006, and Spain in 1992. South America has never hosted the Olympics. Considering Brazil's growing economic clout, the time seems to be about right to finally change that.

Plus, India is gearing up for a 2020 bid of its own. With Beijing 2008, Sochi 2014, Rio 2016, and New Delhi 2020, all of the BRICs would get the recognition they deserve as the 21st century's rising powers. 

Of course, it is important that Rio be truly ready. As my colleague Josh Keating argues in today's Web exclusive, hosting international sporting events can do more harm than good for a country's reputation. The 2010 World Cup in South Africa, for one, appears to be headed toward disaster. But Brazil insists that it successfully hosted the 2007 Pan America Games, and would have proper practice after hosting the 2014 World Cup. Here's hoping Rio gets a good look from the IOC next fall.

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This Week in China

Top Story

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China passed the Olympic torch to Britain Sunday, bringing an end to a controversial Olympics marked both by spectacle and suppression. On the sporting field, China achieved its goal of winning the gold medal count. The United States, however, dubbed the games a "missed opportunity" for progress on human rights, and expressed disappointment that the Olympics didn't bring more "openness and tolerance" to China. In the face of diplomatic pressure, Chinese authorities freed eight Americans who had been detained for pro-Tibet demonstrations during the games. 

China now faces uncertainty over its economic future, hoping to avoid the infamous Olympic hangover. 

Politics

President Hu Jintao visited South Korea Monday, agreeing to expand ties between the two countries. 

Authorities blocked, then reinstated, access to iTunes because of an album titled Songs for Tibet.

The Dalai Lama alleged that repression worsened in Tibet during the Olympics. The spiritual leader canceled trips to Mexico and the Dominican Republic because of exhaustion.

Economy

Facing increasing costs, manufacturers are beginning to look outside China.

China overtook the United States as Japan's largest export market. 

Chinese companies are exploring ventures for oil in Iraq and copper in Afghanistan

The Bank of China is fighting allegations of supporting terrorism.

Environment

Air quality in Beijing is the best in 10 years, and a top environmental official expects the blue skies to continue.

The Olympics diverted water from thousands of farmers, causing a man-made drought that cost locals in Hebei province their homes and land. 

Taiwan

Prosecutors ordered the son and daughter-in-law of Taiwan's former president, Chen Shui-bian, not to leave the island. The former president, his wife, son, daughter-in-law and brother-in-law are all facing investigation for alleged money laundering. 

General News

Explosions at a chemical plant in Guangxi province killed 20 Wednesday. 

Tropical Storm Nuri showered Shanghai with its heaviest rains in 100 years.