So, how ‘bout China’s Olympic debut? The nation of 1.3 billion has pulled out all the stops so far, wowing a global audience during the opening ceremonies (which were very “electric kool-aid acid test”) with special effects that appealed to every sensory organ, and absconding with the gold medal in women’s gymnastics after their team’s effortless performance shook the U.S. women to their very toned cores.
Both events demonstrated China’s capacity for greatness but, as seems to be an ongoing struggle for the nation, both were tainted by scandals and allegations. For starters, the pigtailed 9-year-old girl who performed “Ode to the Motherland” before an audience of more than one billion viewers happened to be lip-synching. She was chosen based on her “cuteness,” but another little girl—Yang Peiyi—happened to be a better singer; organizers just felt Yang wasn’t as internationally appealing, so her brief moment of fame came in the form of a voice recording.
From a PR point of view, maybe there isn’t much to talk about, but it struck me as shameful that the literal meaning of image was more important than its connotations. For singers so small, it seems that the greater statement would be one founded upon transparency and sportsmanship, where the true talent is given the stage she deserves.
Then there are the allegations that China’s team of itty-bitty gymnasts don’t actually meet the age requirements (turning 16 in the year 2008), which undermines their victory over the United States. Whether or not they are true, the suspicions are warranted enough to cloud the accomplishment in controversy.
I guess it just reiterates that the Olympics may be greatest demonstration of sportsmanship the world has to offer, but “greatest” is all relative.
By Courtney Barnes