Friday, August 15, 2008

The Great Olympics Scandal List

The list of embarrassing and interesting facts about Beijing, China and their Olympics continue to mount (with my rating on a scale of 1-10 on their seriousness):

  • The unending man-eating pollution that permeates Beijing - (6/10) Although feared to be a serious respiratory problem before the games, it doesn't seem the smog is having that much of an effect on the athletes. And most every outdoor shot I've seen of competition (beach volleyball, cycling, the Today Show's ratings) the sky has been crystal clear. Must be like those mysterious "Orange Alert" days we keep having in Knoxville which seem to neatly coincide with our nicest, low-humidity days.

  • Fake fireworks in the Opening Ceremonies - (2/10) The fireworks actually happened, they just showed a CGI-enhanced version to the audience and on TV because it was unsafe for a helicopter to film them live in the air. This is something that was blown up a bit out of proportion.

  • Lip-synching kid in the Opening Ceremonies - (5/10) This is more of an embarrassment for the host nation than the fireworks, in that the real little girl who sang the nice anthem was judged "not cute enough" and "didn't present the appropriate face of the country" by some high-ranking yahoo of the Chinese Politburo. When in fact I and most everyone I've talked to thought both little girls were quite sweet-looking. Kids aren't supposed to be beautiful, they're supposed to look like kids (I know, I know, see "Lu, Libby") The Chinese Government's Propaganda Department surfaces in full force.

  • Conscripted performers from Chinese Military in Opening Ceremonies - (7/10) If this is true, and I've just heard it in passing and haven't confirmed it as yet, it's deplorable that the Chinese government required their soldiers to participate. Maybe it's more scary than deplorable, seeing the precision of those drummers and box-stamp-thingy-ers in such lockstep precision. But if true, and these participants were forced to perform...well, maybe they enjoyed it and were proud to do so. Still. Leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Bad form, China.

  • Ineligible Female Chinese Gymnasts - (8/10) Chinese officials apparently scrubbed the actual birthdates of some of their female gymnasts, making them "officially" older than they actually wore and thus above the minimum age limit allowed to compete. Even when asked about their age, the little girls (some 12-14 passing off as 16+ year-olds) they are forced to lie. The cover-up is blatantly bad, since documents and publications from even earlier in the year have been found that specified their true age. Come on - listing a 13-yr-old girl's birthday as Jan 1, 1992? How obvious can you get, guys? I mean, there's arrogance and then there's arrogance.

  • The Souped Up Pools - (4/10) The Chinese construced their swimming pools to increase performance by all competitors. From larger depth to enhanced lane dividers and gutters, all these should serve to raise the tide and affect all boats, as it were. So this is not so significant in affecting the competition as it is causing World and Olympic Records to fall. The new NASA swimsuits worn by the Americans may seem to be a more significant advantage not available to all other competitors. But the relative wealth of your country plays in to all training and equipment advantages, so that's just more of the same. Not a major deal, but very visible.

  • Michael Phelps' Freakish Build - (5/10) He's 6'4", has an armspan (or "wingspan" as the media keeps calling it) of 6'7" (normal humans' height almost always matches their armspan. His upper torso is the equivilant length of someone 6'8" and his legs are the average length of someone who is 5'8". All of which add up to a massively proficient swimmer. Good thing he wasn't a bobsledder or something and decided to take up swimming. He was so born to swim competitively had he been born with webbed fingers and flippers he wouldn't have been much more suited to it. Still, kind of freakish. I smell an 80's era genetics experiment gone horribly wrong here...

  • Canada still hasn't medaled - (5/10) C'mon you guys up north, there are summer games - remember?

  • Where's the Georgia Team - (1/10) I haven't seen a team from the Republic of Georgia (our motto: "Oh I Really, Really, Really Wish I Was in Dixie"). I think the Russian team killed them in the tunnel before their entrance. No seriously, I heard some of their athletes want to withdraw to return and fight for their country. I wonder if there will be any conflict between them and the Russians at the games?

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