I guess it's time to talk about the games that are transfixing the world. The opening ceremony was watched by a record four billion people.
Hungarians like to call their country a "world power in sports" and indeed, considering the country's size, Hungary has had its fair share of medals. Since the beginning of the games Hungary has received 159 gold, 141 silver, and 160 bronze medals. Lately the medal count is nothing like Helsinki in 1954 where Hungary received 42 medals, 16 of which were gold. But until the Sydney Olympics Hungarian athletes managed to get between 20 and 30 medals. In the last two games (Sydney and Athens) the number of medals went under 20 for the first time in recent history. In 2000 Hungary finished 13th in the medal rankings, with 8 gold medals and 17 medals overall. In 2004 Hungary repeated its performance in Sydney–13th place, 8 gold medals, 17 medals overall. So it's no wonder that the Hungarian public is hoping for at least eight gold medals in Beijing. According to those who are more familiar with the international sports scene this figure is most likely too high. For the time being there is only one silver: László Cseh's second place behind Michael Phelps in the 400 m medley. Apparently there might be a chance for Cseh to get a second medal in 200 m butterfly, most likely again behind Phelps.
For the time being that's all, and the Hungarians are disappointed. Yet there has never been a greater interest in any Olympic games in Hungary. People are glued to their TV sets, watching events usually not aired in the U.S., for example judo and fencing. Some political analysts are happy about this new national pastime: here is something that all people, left or right, enjoy. Together they can root for the Hungarian athletes. This sounds idyllic, but I already see that if the Hungarians don't achieve the number of medals they are hoping for some people will try to find a scapegoat. Perhaps the government or the prime minister, although I understand that this government provided the most money ever to spend on the Olympics and that athletes who win medals will receive a handsome tax-free stipend. Meanwhile the fans hope that the number of medals will be forthcoming because Hungarians are strong in events that fall to the last few days of the game. I'm sure everybody in Hungary is keeping fingers crossed.