This book is about sport, and in particular about a sporting mega-event, the Beijing Olympiad. Sporting events in general are social occasions, and Olympic Games have become the sports meetings with the greatest social presence in the world today. A modern Games is the climax of a social process which begins many years earlier, passing through on the way a four-year long Olympiad which starts with the close of the previous Games. Not only the 2008 Olympics, but also the 2004 to 2008 Olympiad will be a high profile jamboree with major social, cultural, political and economic implications. What occurs in and around the 28 sports of the Games in which many thousands of athletes will compete between 8 and 24 of August 2008 in the vicinity of Beijing will attract a huge amount of attention throughout the world, helped by massive media interest. But furthermore, what occurs as part and parcel of the build-up to the Games will be an impressive sporting, social and economic spectacle in itself; will substantially shape what happens at, through and beyond the Games; and will have considerable consequences for China, and for the future of the Olympic movement.