Anthropologist Susan Brownell studies sports and the Olympics:
My question, "will the Olympics change China, or will China change the Olympics?" was really an attempt to prod my audiences to think about the bigger question of the implications for the developed West of China's rise, because Westerners seemed so concerned about the question of whether hosting the Olympics would push China toward Western-style political reforms, and no one seemed concerned about the question of whether, instead of us changing China, China might actually change us. I felt that many of my Western listeners needed to be awakened out of their self-centeredness.
China did change the Olympic Games, and since the Olympic Games are a thoroughly global event, those changes reflect the changes that China has instigated in the world order. The world financial crisis hit right after the Beijing Games, in large part due to the fact that the integration of China into the global economy, which the Olympics marked, had tipped it off balance.
Read more at The Atlantic
The world went into the 2008 games asking whether the Olympics would change China, but maybe it was the other way around.