The opening ceremony last week in Beijing was quite memorable. The sheer magnitude of the spectacle was, in fact, almost unbelievable. When former Olympic medalist and millionaire clothing designer Li Ning made his lap around the roof of the Bird’s Nest without falling or extinguishing his torch, China must have breathed a collective sigh of relief. The whole thing went off without a hitch.
But a bit of controversy has come to the surface recently. Remember that little flying singer with the pig-tails who almost stole the entire show? According to the ceremony’s music director, Chen Qigang, she was simply mouthing the words.
That’s not really a controversy. Singing in front of so many people is a lot to ask of someone so young.
But wait. The little girl, Lin Miaoke, was not even supposed to be part of the show. She was a replacement for the original singer, seven-year-old Yang Peiyi. Yang was not going to lip-sync. What happened? A sore throat? Stage fright?
Government officials and the ceremony’s producers decided to cut Yang in favor of Lin because Yang, with her crooked teeth and baby-fat cheeks, was deemed too ugly.
Chen explained: “The reason why little Yang was not chosen to appear was because we wanted to project the right image…”
Yang’s voice was still heard on the stadium’s sound system. Apparently, Lin didn’t have the singing chops to match her good looks.
Cathay Pacific Airlines recently reported that they have had to alter their flight schedule after they were told that Beijing‘s airport would be closed during the opening ceremonies for the Olympics. According to the Associated Press, the airport will be closed from about 7 p.m. until just before midnight on August 8th. This is one of the many precautions that China seems to be taking to increase security during the Olympics.
Certainly, the usual security fears associated with a major international event are part of the equation. Add to that the fact the Olympics would be a perfect stage for people from the provinces of Tibet and Xinjiang to voice their discontent to the world.
Plenty of things could go wrong for China during the month of August. The airport closure is just one example of the actions authorities are taking to make sure nothing that would cause a loss of face for China actually comes to pass.
Another face-saving measure: vetting all opening ceremonies performers for Tibetan sympathizers. You can be certain that Bjork or Richard Gere will not be gracing the stage on August 8th. Those who will perform have been issued a warning by Beijing: “The content of the performance should not violate the country’s law, including situations that harm the sovereignty of the country… incite racial hatred and ruin ethnic unity.”
Attendees have already been given their set of rules. Makes one wonder if it wouldn’t be more of a blast to wait until after the Olympics are over to pay China a visit.
Photo from Flickr user Melinda