When it was just faked parts of the opening ceremony fireworks, it seemed merely a symbolic faux pas. When we found out the regime told a seven-year-old girl she was too ugly for the stage, it became a symbol of the regime's cruelty (National Review Online and NRO - The Corner).
Now, we have reports of actual scandals, i.e., the regime trying to fix the outcome of events.
The most well-known problems involve the women's gymnastics team - which according to both outside and Communist news sources include athletes too young to participate (NRO and Washington Post). There is also the question of who got a hold of Abhinav Bindra's rifle before Men's 10m Air Rifle Final (although Bindra was able to fix the problem and win - Boycott 2008).
I must confess; this doesn't surprise me. This is a regime willing to built eight-foot walls to block the view of older housing in the city (CNN). They created special protest zones and refuse to let any protesters use them (Washington Post), while bringing in the cameras for the good half of their interrogations with foreign protesters (Washington Post). Their promises of cutting back on human rights abuses before and during the Games has proven to be a joke (Between Heaven and Earth and Boycott 2008).
Given all of the above, it's no shock that the cadres would try to inflate their medal total through unethical means (that they could be so easily caught - as with the gymnastics flap - does surprise me a little). After all, what matters to the Communists, first and foremost, is putting on the best show possible for the Chinese people to see - not on their behalf, as is so readily assumed outside Communist China.
I've already pointed to evidence that the cadres are coming up short here, and more of it came today courtesy of the Washington Post. The headline says it all: "Across China's Countryside, 'Just Too Busy' for Olympics."
Given that the restive countryside was the target audience for the Olympic propaganda, this is a big deal - and a very troubling one for the Communists. Fewer watchers from the rural interior means angrier peasants when evidence of the pre-Olympic corruption seeps out (as it inevitably will when the Games end).
When Beijing was awarded the Games in 2001, the argument between engagers and anti-Communists was whether the Olympics would succeed in nudging the CCP toward change or simply give the Party a huge propaganda success. That the regime would stumble from embarrassing stagecraft to athletic scandal wasn't on anyone's radar (even the Korean colony can't gain from the relative anonymity the Games provide - One Free Korea).
In fact, these Olympic Games may be something neither side saw coming: a flop.