chapter  7
Why 1984 Medalist Li Ning Lit the Flame at the Beijing 2008 Olympics: The Contribution of the Los Angeles Olympics to China’s Market Reforms
BySusan Brownell
Pages 16

The Los Angeles Olympics, Li Ning and China’s Rise On August 8, 2008, the audience for the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games waits with anticipation to see who will receive the torch from the last relay runner and proceed to light the Olympic cauldron. The last runner turns out to be Li Ning, the decorated Olympic gymnast. He rises high into the air tethered to a cable, circles the upper rim of the Bird’s Nest Stadium while seemingly running in air and then lights the torch. In China, the story of the entrepreneurship that led from the creation of China’s first sports drink company in the lead-up to the Los Angeles 1984 Olympics to the emergence of Li-Ning Sporting Goods as a global company before the Beijing Olympics is considered to be one of the most emblematic stories of China’s rise as an economic superpower. As discussed below, it has been portrayed as such in Chinese media coverage and analysed as such by Western analysts.