Thursday, August 14, 2008

on presentational devices at your precious non-politicised Olympic Games

Feng Silu, another volunteer, says they have gone through rigid training to achieve perfection. During the training sessions, they have to stand in five to six-inch heels with their jaws tucked in while balancing a 16-page book on their head and keeping a sheet of paper between their knees, for at least an hour at a time. If either object fell or slipped from place, they would have to start the exercise all over again.

"We only take a few minutes' rest every a couple of hours. You know, we need to adjust our pace and stride constantly to achieve perfection. When it was break time, even bending my legs hurt. And as we have our stockings on during training, we may wear out two or three pairs each day."

From CRIEnglish. (h/t Kyrias, who has promised a post on this in the near future. [edit: It's here.]

Wearing a red dress and pigtails, Lin Miaoke charmed a worldwide audience with a rendition of "Ode to the Motherland".

But the singer was Yang Peiyi, who was not allowed to appear because she is not as "flawless" as nine-year-old Lin.

The show's musical director said Lin was used because it was in the best interests of the country.

From the Beeb, with pictures of the two children.

Marina Hyde, for the most part, wrote the Olympics post I didn't want to:

Amazingly, it's not even the IOC's most unedifying moment of the past fortnight. That honour belongs to their decision to suspend the entire Iraqi Olympic team on the basis that the country's National Olympic Committee had not been properly recognised by the IOC. Clearly, Iraq's real crime was not having the right paperwork, though before rescinding the ban on some (but not all) of the athletes, the IOC chuntered that it was because of suspicions of "political interference in the Olympic movement".

Last week I asked them to clarify why they had never suspected political interference when one Uday Hussein was chairman of the NOC. Unfortunately, they were far too grand to comment, but having since read senior IOC member Dick Pound's book, I discover that they couldn't be sure that Uday was a political placeman. Thank God they didn't put two and two together and make five.

Instead, they focus on issuing directives forbidding athletes from making any political statements. Surely it's time the IOC re-examined their definition of what it means to be political. It seems entirely acceptable for states to politicise the games by using them as propaganda, and for corporations to do the same (22 years of McDonald's sponsorship feels faintly agenda-driven). Only the athletes are warned not to step out of line.

Priorities being what they are, the IOC did not bother to issue similar directives instructing China not to bulldoze homes to make way for the new Beijing. And yet they must have known this would happen, as so many games have been preceded by what we might euphemistically describe as a tidying away of humans who don't match the decor. Consider Mexico City, where police opened fire and killed hundreds of student protesters; or Atlanta, where the organising committee actually built the jail to which many people who committed new offences on the city statute book - like lying down in the street - were dispatched.

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