“Beijing wasn't ready for the Olympics in 2001, when it was selected to host the Games,” said the Los Angeles Times in an editorial, “and days before the opening ceremonies, it still isn't ready.” The air is so filthy that outdoor endurance events might be postponed, and the government is so paranoid about dissent that it is limiting foreign journalists’ Internet access. So much for using the Games to spread freedom.

That worked in Seoul in 1988 and Mexico City in 1968, said the San Francisco Chronicle in an editorial, but the Beijing Games, which open Friday, are shaping up to be a “heavily policed exercise played out under smog and nervous officials.” China was “yearning for worldwide respect as an ancient yet dynamic culture,” but it’s increasingly clear that a “suspicious, judgmental, and decidedly authoritarian country” isn’t up to the pressure of the Olympic spotlight.

The International Olympic Committee appears unfazed by China’s “blatant promise-breaking,” said Joseph Sternberg in The Wall Street Journal. The regime was supposed to open up a little out of respect for “the noble ideals the Olympics are supposed to represent,” but “let’s stop kidding ourselves. The Games are a business, not a philanthropy.”

“China bashing” seems to be a sport everybody enjoys, said Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria in The Washington Post’s PostGlobal blog. What happened to using the Games as an opportunity for “serious analysis and reflection about China? Instead of demonizing China, the West should be concentrating on creating new and lasting relations with it, and with other “newly rising powers.”