China: Can Olympic gold last?

It has relied on a massive – and expensive – sports system to dominate the Beijing Games's gold-medal count.

The Beijing Games have established a new Olympic order. To win these games, China made a massive investment in its sports system. If it continues, the dominance could continue for years to come.

The host nation is set to win the gold-medal table. By the time the Games end Sunday, it may near the Soviet Union's record of 55 golds in a nonboycotted Olympics, set in 1988.

Yet the triumph has come at great cost. China's centralized sports system is expansive and expensive. With little of a grass-roots sports culture here, the government must maintain or even increase its funding to stay on top.

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China must decide whether to pull back now that it's won its hometown Games or use this success as a foundation for more. Its decision could shape the medal table for years to come.

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