Thursday, June 05, 2008

Marni Soupcoff on more proof China's not ready for the Olympics

National Post: Posted: June 05, 2008, 8:18 PM by Marni Soupcoff

Two stories I read today solidified my opinion that China is not ready to host the Olympics.

1) As this BBC News story explains (along with a helpful diagram) Beijing Olympic chiefs have instituted an "official cheer" for Chinese spectators to use so that they will "cheer for their favourite athletes in a smooth, civilized manner." The robotic four-part sequence (basically, clap, clap, thumbs up, clap, clap, arms form a Y, all while chanting "Olympics...Let's Go...China...") is being taught to school children in special training sessions. Anyone having Cultural Revolution flashbacks?

2) As the New York Times Olympics blog points out, the Chinese government is not permitting the broadcast of the NBA finals on state-run television (and in China, all television is state-run television) because the games have been deemed "too entertaining." The ostensible rationale is that it would be wrong to air something so fun and diverting after last month's devastating earthquake, which is a weird enough reason in itself. (Why not let people take a break from suffering and mourning with a little entertainment?)

The more probable reason for not airing the Lakers/Celtics games is that China is still angry about the letter L.A. Laker Ira Newble released back when he was still playing for Cleveland. It criticized China for its policy on Darfur, and was signed by most of Newble's fellow Cavaliers. Here's the Time's description of the missive:

The letter reads in part, “We, as basketball players in the N.B.A. and as potential athletes in the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, cannot look on with indifference to the massive human suffering and destruction that continue in the Darfur region of Sudan.” It concludes with a plea to the Chinese government “to use all available diplomatic resources and economic pressure to end the agony of Darfur, and to secure access for U.N. peace support personnel.” OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

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