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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Olympics and Chinese Subterfuge

I've been watching and enjoying the Olympics in my spare time. (Go Michael Phelps!) If you miss any of the TV coverage, NBC has extensive coverage on its website, with thousands of hours of video for every event, both live and replays. Check it out if you want to see the Opening Ceremonies again, watch the gold medal highlights, or catch the latest victory of the Romanian women's handball team.

China is hosting the Olympics, and I've been amused by the recent reports of subterfuge undertaken by the Chinese. (What do you expect when the Games are being run by a Communist government?) Here's a sampling of what the Chinese have been up to:

-During the Opening Ceremonies, some of the fireworks were faked on the footage broadcast to TVs across the world and to the screens inside the Olympic stadium.

-The little Chinese girl who sung at the Opening Ceremonies was lip-syncing to the previously-recorded voice of another girl who wasn't considered cute enough to be on TV. From the article:
"The reason was for the national interest," said Chen Qigang, the ceremony's musical director, in a state radio interview. "The child on camera should be flawless in image, internal feeling and expression....."

The decision was made at the highest levels, Chen said.

"We had to do it," he said. "We'd been through several inspections. They're all very strict. When we rehearsed at the spot, there were several spectators from various divisions, especially leaders from the Politburo, who gave the opinion it must change."
-Also during the Opening Ceremonies, the group of children who came in dressed in the costumes of each of China's ethnic minorities, weren't actually of those ethnicities: they were from China's Han majority, which makes up 92% of the Chinese population.

-And in the most egregious example, it appears that several members of the Chinese women gymnastics team, which won gold over the U.S. a couple of days ago, are younger than 16, which is against Olympic rules. Nine months ago, the Chinese government news agency reported that one of the girls was 13. Now the Chinese government says the girls are all at least 16 and they've produced passports proving that fact.
Asked whether the federation had changed their ages to make them eligible, Zhang [an official with China's gymnastics delegation at the games] said: "We are a sports department. How would we have the ability to do that?"
The Chinese Politburo forging documents to cheat at the Olympics? Inconceivable!

Here are a couple of entertaining sports editorials discussing China's subterfuge: Mariotti in the Chicago Sun Times and Albom in the Detroit Free Press.

But don't let the scandals discourage you from watching the drama of victory and defeat that only comes once every 4 years. Go USA!