The visit by a team of star mainland Olympic athletes is set to push a wave of nationalistic fervour to a new high. As the election run-in reaches a crucial stage, the emergence of strong feelings of Chinese identity may have a subtle impact on the public's perception towards candidates. This is because despite signs of conciliation, the relationship between Beijing and the pro-democracy camp - and the Democratic Party in particular - remains shaky. The recent denial of entry of leading democrat Law Chi-kwong into Shanghai only serves to highlight this volatile relationship. Taking advantage of press reports about the involvement of foreign organisations in Hong Kong politics, Beijing-friendly groups have lashed out at the Democratic Party for allegedly inviting interference in the election campaign. The message is clear, though familiar: the Democrats are anti-China and troublemakers in Hong Kong. Now that Beijing has ruled out universal suffrage in 2007 and 2008, the groups argued that the Democrats were at best raising hopes and at worst creating friction by prolonging their fight for early direct polls. The feel-good factor surrounding the mainland Olympians is seemingly in contrast with the disharmony in the relationship between the pro-democracy movement and the central government. Superficially, the medallists' four-day trip may give an edge to such Beijing-friendly parties as the Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong, putting the embattled Democrats in a more difficult position, although the ultimate impact on voting behaviour may be insignificant because of profound changes in the political scene and mainland-Hong Kong relations. Even though there has been a strong feeling of national pride in sporting and other areas, a sense of Hong Kong identity has at the same time been growing, witnessed by the two July 1 rallies. While proud of being Chinese, many people may not find it contradictory to persist with what they believe to be right and good for Hong Kong - and China: democracy and freedom. They will vote for the candidates they find best represent their aspirations.