Showing posts with label Olympic Games Beijing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Olympic Games Beijing. Show all posts

Monday, August 11, 2008


As I watched last night's US/China basketball match, I felt confused. On the surface, it looked like yet another conventional Olympic ball game between two nations. But I soon sensed that there was more to it than that. It seemed more like some kind of a weird religious process in which zealous missionaries were teaching a company of recently-ordained converts how to conduct the sacred rituals of a sect. As befits this kind of ceremony, enhanced with subtle symbols, the ancient priests wore white. Even their names were written in white letters on a white background, as if they weren't really meant to be read, but merely imagined... like the pronunciation of the holy name of Yahveh. The Chinese spectators encouraged their players by crying out the English word China. This same word appeared on their ritual garments.

In the congregation, George W Bush and his wife watched the proceedings. Earlier in the day, they had attended a protestant church near Beijing's Forbidden City, where the Chinese worshipers sang Amazing Grace in English and Chinese. Afterwards, the US president declared: "Laura and I just had the great joy and privilege of worshiping here in Beijing. You know, it just goes to show that God is universal, and God is love, and no state, man or woman should fear the influence of loving religion." The preceding day, he had already taped a message on this same theme: "This trip has reaffirmed my belief that men and women who aspire to speak their conscience and worship their God are no threat to the future of China. They are the people who will make China a great nation in the 21st century."

It goes without saying that these people will need to learn how to play basketball, eat hamburgers, drink certain ritual beverages, go to church on Sundays and express themselves in English.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

China's promises

People who are about to fall into a state of TV enthrallment during the Olympic Games might take a few minutes off to reflect upon what has happened in China since 2001, when Beijing was designated as the host city for 2008. I'm thinking, not of air pollution, but of the promises of a political nature made by the Chinese government.

Concerning access to the Internet, Jacques Rogge, president of the IOC [International Olympic Commitee], claimed recently that there would be no Internet censure in China during the Games.

Today, on the contrary, the IOC admitted that it had always known that China would never remove Internet restrictions for foreign journalists covering the Games. Even the websites of the celebrated Falun Gong spiritual movement, with millions of adepts in China and throughout the world, are outlawed. [Click the logo to visit their information center... unless you happen to be located in China.]

Concerning Tibet, the current situation is hard to analyze. On the one hand, it's a fact that China recently sent two senior Communist officials to meet up with Tibetan negotiators. On the other hand, reports from the exiled Tibetan government in India claim that over 200 people have been killed in violence in Tibet over the last four months.

Finally, in the domain of human rights, there is no more eloquent statement of China's broken promises than the Amnesty International report on this subject. [Once again, unless you happen to be located in China, you can access the Amnesty website simply by clicking the following banner.]

We read, on the first page of this report: Regrettably, since the publication of Amnesty International’s last Olympics Countdown report on 1 April 2008, there has been no progress towards fulfilling these promises, only continued deterioration. Unless the authorities make a swift change of direction, the legacy of the Beijing Olympics will not be positive for human rights in China.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Nice promotional video

I like the cloudy graphics (probably Flash artwork) and drowsy musical tone of the French Olympic promotional video.

Click the above image to access their website, skip the introduction and then click the link marked LE FILM in the upper right corner.

It's highly possible, of course, that French sporting results at Beijing will also be cloudy and drowsy... at least in the athletics domain. But, as Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games, might have said (but didn't, apparently): The important thing is, not to win, but to participate.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Olympic contests

There's no doubt about it: the 2008 Olympic Games have started well and truly, a little earlier than planned, with spectacular events in London and Paris. The IOC [International Olympic Committee] will have to invent a name for this new sport, played simultaneously by individuals and teams.

In Paris, the athletes dressed in navy blue appeared to be the stronger players. However, at the moment I'm writing, the heats are not yet finished, and it's still impossible to predict the winners.

On the French TV midday news, there were confused images of police vehicles and crowds of people in one of the tunnels alongside the Seine. My mind flashed back to the death of Diana. Today, thanks to China's stubborn reluctance to respect human rights, particularly in Tibet, I fear that we're about to witness the death of the ancient Olympic spirit.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Enemies of the Internet

Reporters Without Borders [RWB] is an international NGO [nongovernmental organization] founded in 1985 with the general goal of defending the liberty of the press. [Click the banner to visit their website.] They have just issued a list of 15 countries branded as "enemies of the Internet": Belarus, Burma (Myanmar), China, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.

Not surprisingly, China is currently censuring certain websites that show videos of the riots in Tibet. The following document shows Chinese plainclothes police hitting a cyclist with stones:

According to RWB, China has at present imprisoned more web journalists and bloggers than any other country in the world.

The question of boycotting the Olympic Games is certainly on the table. Observers claim, however, that such a boycott would only hurt the world's athletes, without necessarily improving things in China.