11 August 2008

Faking Peking

Sighs of relief all round in London, as it seems the impressive opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games, was not all it seemed. Just as the London Organising Committee was scratching its head about how to top the Chinese efforts, it emerged, first, that the "firework footprints" that travelled across the city were actually filmed in advance. And today it was admitted that the nine-year-old girl featured singing "Ode to the motherland", Lin Miaoke, was actually miming to another girl's voice.

The Chinese authorities have been very matter-of-fact in their admittance, excusing the voice substitution: "The girl appearing on the picture must be flawless in terms of her facial expression and the great feeling she can give to people", the musical director of the opening ceremony explained. Quite what this will do for the self-esteem of the 'flawed' little girl was not mentioned.

The fireworks sleight-of-camera was provided to broadcasters for "convenience and theatrical effects", according to Wang Wei, Beijing's Organising Committee's executive vice-president, to counteract the effects of "poor visibility". That's 'pollution' to you and me.

This has given a new angle on Olympic Cynicism, a syndrome that sets in sometime between the optimism of the opening ceremony and the first positive drugs test of one of the weightlifting competitors. Now we can speculate whether, in fact, a result will be invalidated not by an injection of nandrolone, but for convenience and theatrical effects of the host nation. Look out for the first Chinese winner of the Men's 100m Final.

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