Although there have been sponsors as long as there have been modern Olympic Games—the U.S. company Eastman Kodak was a sponsor the first of the modern Olympic Games in 1896—it has only been in the last twenty-four years that companies have been able to pay for the privilege of calling themselves the “official (retailer, outfitter, beverage, car, camera) of the Olympics.” Coincidentally, 2008 is also be the twenty-fourth year since China returned to the games after more than thirty years away. More importantly, it is the first time that China has hosted the game, another milestone in the seemingly endless list of firsts for China as its global influence grows.

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