The murder of an American tourist in Beijing last Saturday cast an initial pall over China's first Olympics.
Police ramped up an already heavy security presence at tourist spots around the capital following the stabbing death of Todd Bachman, 62, the father of a former Olympic gold medalist and father-in-law of the American men's volleyball coach. The news is a black eye for what China promised to be the most spectacular and secure Games ever. Violence against foreigners is rare in China and the murder of a tourist in town for the Olympics stirred shock and embarrassment.
Saturday's news followed a spectacular opening ceremony that met with mixed reviews outside the national stadium -- mainly for the tight security controls and technical difficulties on public locations that set up big-screen televisions to broadcast the show. Several of Beijing's most attractive spots were off-limits on the opening Friday to those without Olympic credentials.
Chinese officials said they might never know the motive of the murderer, a 47-year-old man from Hangzhou. Speculation in Internet chat rooms buzzed over whether he had a beef with the authoritarian government, although most of the conjecture was quickly deleted (part of the government's Web crackdown during the Games). On top of that is the continuing violence in the restive Muslim region in western China that authorities say is linked to the Olympics.
The grim news around the Games is sure to fuel the sense that 2008, once believed to be a golden time for China, might instead go down in history as an unlucky year.