Wu Dianyuan and Wang Xiuying are both Chinese ladies in their late 70s. Both walk with canes, and Wang is blind in one eye. They’ve lived through Mao and stayed out of trouble. The Chinese government seized their houses for redevelopment. The women thought they received insufficient compensation. They decided to apply for permission to hold a legal protest in a designated area of Beijing where Chinese officials promised that Chinese citizens could hold legal demonstrations during the Olympics.
They were denied permission for the legal protest. They have been ordered to attend “re-education through labor” camps instead.
Despite promises made to the International Olympic Committee when seeking the Olympics, the Chinese have not opened up their country to dissent. But Jacques Rogge, who is the president of the International Olympic Committee, feels that China is doing a great job with the Olympics, despite their many broken promises. Government repression is not a world concern. At least to Rogge. He’s disturbed by something far more odious, far more damaging to the world’s moral psyche.
I kid you not.
“That’s not the way we perceive being a champion,” Rogge said of Bolt, referring to Bolt’s finish in his world record setting 100-meter sprint. “I have no problem with him doing a show,” he continued. “I think he should show more respect for his competitors and shake hands, give a tap on the shoulder to the other ones immediately after the finish and not make gestures like the one he made in the 100 meters.”
And I think Rogge is full of crap. I watched that race. And I was amazed. I was amazed by the ease with which Bolt not only ran his race, but the ease with which he won it. And I was amazed by his joy at winning. By his jumping around and sprinting around the track, and going over to the stands to find his mother. I suppose Rogge finds it showboating. I call it an ode to joy.
I enjoy watching an athlete have a good time. I enjoy watching an athlete who realizes that he has accomplished the absolute best in his sport. But Rogge wants him to mature. He wants him to act like a champion.
I just wish Rogge had this same concern with the Chinese.
“I believe these games have opened up the country,” he told various news organizations. “On one hand, people will understand China better with all its challenges. They will remain critical on many issues, that is their right. On the other hand, the Chinese definitely have experienced that they cannot live in splendid isolation.”
And how have the Chinese experienced that they cannot live in splendid isolation? The IOC has done nothing to force the Chinese to live up to the promises made to get the Games. Press access throughout the country was censored. NBC – which paid millions and millions of dollars to broadcast these games – has bent over backwards to not criticize the Chinese government. The Internet is censored. Despite the existence of protest zones, no protests have approved – though several people like Mrs. Wu and Wang have been sent to re-education camps for seeking to partake in legal activities.
The IOC has been strangely quiet about this. But maybe if the two women had showboated a bit when seeking permission the IOC would have noticed them.
SOME MISCELLANEOUS OLYMPIC NOTES:
Yesterday was a day of shocks for the U.S. Olympic team, but not good shocks. The U.S. women were upset in softball, and in track, both the men’s and women’s 4x100 relay teams failed to qualify for the finals as both teams botched the exchange for the anchor leg. The U.S. men had previously only failed to qualify for the 4x100 finals twice in the history of the modern Olympics – 1912 and 1988. And the women had only failed to qualify once, in 1948. The relay flub means that the U.S. will go zero for six in the sprint races, races which have historically been dominated the by the United States.
Not all was lost for the U.S. track team, however, as they did sweep the medals in the 400-meters. But there was still an upset here, however, as LaShawn Merritt upset the reigning Olympic and two-time world champ Jeremy Wariner – who settled for the silver. The bronze went to David Neville who dove across the line to barely get the third spot.
******************* And while not the upset of the Japanese defeating the U.S. in softball, the U.S. women’s soccer team pulled off the 1-0 upset over Brazil for the gold medal. Though they had won three of the four gold medals that have been offered up in Olympic soccer history, the U.S. women were not expected to challenge this year.
A near upset almost came over at the men’s beach volleyball court last night. In a thrilling three-set match, Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers won the gold medal for the United States, 23-21, 17-21, 15-4. The score of that last set doesn’t quite indicate how close this match was, and it appeared at times as if the Brazilian team might pull off the victory.
******************* Laura Wilkinson of The Woodlands completed her Olympic career yesterday without earning a medal in the 10-meter platform dive. She finished the competition in ninth place. Her international diving career included three Olympic appearances – with a gold medal at the 2000 Games in Sydney.
******************* And the breaking news last night was that the IOC has ordered an investigation into the ages of the Chinese women’s gymnastics team. It has been alleged by the Karolyis and others that the Chinese women were too young to be competing, and it now appears that maybe some truth will come to light. I am still of the opinion, however, that none of this would have mattered if the American women would not have fallen off of the balance beam or stepped out of bounds on the floor exercise.
But that, apparently, is just me. – John Royal
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