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It’s almost ludicrous, the power of sport.

It has the power to bind people, make them stronger, bring out the best in people, and I know now it has the power to hide.

Before its opening ceremonies, these latest Olympic Games were billed as China’s “coming out party”; sixteen days of realization and discovery about a well-hidden, not-so-well understood nation, which we in the West are rarely privy to.

But what I realized and discovered is that, even with NBC cameras swarming its capital, China stayed hidden the whole time. It was hidden behind sport.

The drums are played and the torch is lit and suddenly it’s too dark to see.

When the marathon, which untangled its way through Beijing, reached Tiananmen Square, it was simply, according to the broadcast, “the largest public space in any city in the world.” No mention of the June Fourth Incident at all.

But it was less than 20 years ago when labor activists and students gathered in the square to protest the authoritarianism and economic policies of the ruling Chinese Communist Party and two to three thousand of them, according to the Red Cross, went home dead or injured. Or, according to the Chinese government, two to three hundred.

“On a typical morning, you’ll see this place packed with people,” was the call.

And instead of any mention of the military occupation of Tibet and numerous documented civil rights violations and Tibetan political prisoners and the campaign for sovereignty, we saw our American president express his discontent with Russia’s Vladimir Putin over his occupation of the South Ossetia region of Georgia.

But, in 1949 the Chinese military rolled their tanks into Tibet and they haven’t left since.

What we didn’t know going into all of this, wasn’t the history of the Forbidden City or who is Mao Zedong, who’s portrait graces it. It was, and still remains, the tactics of the party he ran from 1949 to 1976. We didn’t get any of that.

Why did our President, a man so adamant about the healing powers of a good democracy, even attend? I thought we didn’t stand for injustice and murder and communism.

I do understand two things: that it was a positive thing for the Chinese to allow the world into Beijing and can be seen as a step in the right direction, and that sometimes the world needs a break from thinking about all the turmoil it encompasses.

But, is it really responsible to take a break from state-sanctioned murder? We don’t talk enough in this country about what China is up to in the first place. And that may be because they are such a secretive government that we rarely have the opportunity. But we were just handed one, and we left worrying, simply, about the ages of the Chinese gymnasts.

One night while watching rhythmic gymnastics I asked my mother, “Mom, think back to the Moscow Games in 1980, did the U.S. come off then like we are now?”

“No Anthony,” she said. “But that was different.” And I sat and wondered why.

Honestly, I enjoyed these Games as much as any American. I got totally wrapped up in Usain Bolt’s world records and Michael Phelps’ neckfull of gold medals and I’m dying for a date with Nastia Liukin.

Just now, after the fact, I’m starting to remember that sport is supposed to be about truth and honesty and fairness. It’s not a facade. You put one man against another and the results don’t lie, the best man in that instance wears gold. It’s truth at its ultimate.