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We are ready #2! Advertisers and visas

Previously in this exciting week-long series, here.

If you go to this page of the official Beijing 2008 Olympic site, you'll see a list of the corporations from around the world that have invested most in the success of these games. The 12 companies on the left-hand side are "Worldwide Olympic Partners," with long-term sponsorship of the Olympics. The 11 on the right, "Beijing 2008 Partners," have invested specifically in the Beijing games. In all there are 22 companies represented here (one, Johnson & Johnson, is in both categories), 13 of them based outside China.

One of the non-Chinese companies on this list -- I can't be more specific than that, to avoid getting people I've spoken with into trouble -- recently planned to produce a special, lavish, glorification-of-taut-young-sweaty-bodies and glorification-of-rising-China series of films about the games. They had invested a lot of time and money in preparation for the shoot. Their film crew was set to arrive in China recently to show the athletes nearing their performance peak, the venues being tested and buffed, the whole proud host nation preparing to host their contests and welcome the world.

And they couldn't get visas to enter China, "during the tense Olympic period." Plans called off. Or so I am told by a person directly involved in their now-cancelled visit. I will retract this report if and when I see such films from the company (they were intended to be something no one watching the games could miss).

If you didn't know better, you might have thought in 2003 and 2004 that U.S. government strategy was being set by people trying to make enemies rather than friends in the Arab-Islamic world. And if you didn't know better, you might think that the Chinese government's approach to the Olympics is being set by people trying to make the country look bad.