The 1936 Berlin Olympic Games had been handed to Berlin before the Nazis came to power but now it was the perfect opportunity for Hitler to demonstrate to the world, how efficient the Nazi Germany was. It was also the perfect opportunity for the Nazis to prove to the world the reality of the Master Race. The Berlin Olympic Games gave the Nazis an opportunity to show off to the world as 49 countries were competing bringing with them their assorted media.
Now I'm not suggesting that China is like Nazi Germany. However, China despite economic liberalization, remains a police state. The country suffers from an inferiority complex and intends on using the Games to show the world that it is a major power in the 21st century.
But the rest of the world is uneasy about how the Olympic planning has been going and there has been repeated warnings from International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge over commitments that haven't been met.
Beijing pollution is a serious problem. So much so that there is concern that some endurance events (eg, the Marathon) cannot be safely run. In response, half of Beijing's 3.3 million vehicles will be pulled off the roads and many polluting factories will be shuttered. No one knows for sure if these measures will be enough.
Peddlers have been told to clear off the streets, and unsightly restaurants have been closed, many of them arbitrarily. Far more sinister, dissidents have been thrown in jail for the duration of the Olympics. The Chinese are paranoid about a possible terrorist attack during the Games. There are several hundred thousand security police assigned to the Olympics. Police in bulletproof vests and with bomb-sniffing dogs prowl roadways. New postal rules prohibit the mailing not only of explosives, but any pastes, electronics and "unidentifiable metal objects."