The Olympics

The Olympics

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News, information and stories about the 2016 Brazilian Olympic Games and the Olympics in general.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Opening Ceremony Video Leaked

The details of the opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics (8 August) have been kept strictly under wraps, so as not to spoil the surprise.

That at least was the plan until South Korea messed it up, and showed a 30 sneak preview on TV.

The footage was obtained by a reporter with the Seoul Broadcasting system, who walked into the National Stadium during a rehearsal on Monday.

The images are now on the net, and show floating 3D humpback whales, kung fu fighters and trapeze gymnasts.

In one segment, thousands of white cubes are moved by people to form waves suggesting the explosive growth of high-rise cities in China. A giant green and blue globe can be seen. Large whales will figure, as will dancers dressed as ancient soldiers from the Tomb of Unknown Warriors.

Not unsurprisingly, China is not best pleased with this leak. The Beijing Olympics spokesman, Sun Weide, said last night that the footage was obtained by "irregular means" and questioned the professional standards of the reporter.

The video was on YouTube until it was pulled for copyright reasons, and the fact that the Chinese are furious. However, it still can be viewed here: Huffington Post.

See it before it is pulled.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Beijing Air Clearing

As the opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics approaches, organisers have been anxiously monitoring air pollution levels in and around Beijing hoping for the air to clear and the traditional summer smog to lift.

It would seem their prayers are being answered, wind and rain has helped clear Beijing's air and all are keeping their fingers crossed for the start of the games on the 8th of August.

The recent haze was the worst seen in Beijing in the past month, this in spite of the fact that over 1 million cars have been pulled off the road and work on construction sites has been stopped.

Du Shaozhong, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau, told reporters that Beijing could institute emergency measures if air pollution worsens during the games, and said a contingency plan was already in place.

The National Meteorological Center said that rain is forecast for the next few days in Beijing.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Great Firewall of China II

For those who have problems in China wrt accessing the certain sites on the net, Amnesty International Australia have set up the Chinese Internet Censor Index for you to record you frustrations.

The Telegraph reports that politically sensitive sites, including those dealing with Tibet and Taiwan and the BBC (technical problems are blamed), are still blocked.

However, you can buy porn in the Games village bookshop, which sells erotic books featuring pictures of naked women with titles such as "Drawing book for the Nude".

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Monday, July 28, 2008

"Religion" The Root of All Evil

The Times reports that a militant Islamic group, the Turkestan Islamic party, has threatened to attack the Beijing Olympics with suicide bombers and biological weapons.

A video allegedly has been released by the group that warns athletes and spectators, "especially Muslims", to stay away.

The world would be a much more peaceful place without "religion".

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

IOC VP Praises China's Preparations

International Olympic Committee (IOC) Vice President Chiharu Igaya, in a recent interview with Xinhua, stated:

"As the Beijing Olympics boasts many outstanding sports venues, I believe athletes around the world could achieve better scores in the better conditions.

Sports competition, sports culture and sports environment constitute the core of the modern Olympic, and excellent sports facilities will be an important part of a successful Olympics
."

Igaya was generous in his praise for Beijing's adoption of new designs and advanced technologies in Olympic facilities.

"In the systemic project of hosting the Olympics, Beijing's presentation of a series of fine architectures, including the 'Bird's Nest,' is especially praiseworthy.

China has overcome a series of challenges, including the recent Sichuan earthquake, during the past seven years since the bidding success, and we are grateful for China's significant efforts to prepare the games
."

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hotel Rates Slashed

Hotel room rates in Beijing are being dramatically slashed ahead of the forthcoming Olympics, starting on 8 August, as room occupancy rates are falling.

The fall in occupancy rates is as a result of increased security and worries amongst prospective visitors about air pollution and terrorism.

Two to four star hotels have reportedly reduced prices by between 10%-20%, compared to May and June. Some have even cut rates by up to 30%.

The Beijing Tourism Authority reports that in June the number of visitors to Beijing, including overseas and domestic, was down by 19.9% compared with the previous year earlier.

The average room prices in some three-star hotels are down to 400 yuan ($60) per night from 700 yuan ($100) in previous months. Four star hotels have dropped to about 800 yuan ($117) a night, from 1,500 yuan ($220).

Beijing initially expected around 500,000 foreign guests for the Olympics. However, that estimate has now been reduced.

It seems that bargains, if some tough negotiations are conducted, can be had.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Great Firewall of China

Those of you who are travelling to China for the forthcoming Beijing Olympics, who want to be able to access all of the web during the visit will need to use a proxy to get around the firewall.

When I go to China I use www.anonymouse.org. There are of course others, do a Google and look them up before you go.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Putin Says Da

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has said "Da" to attending the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics on 8 August.

Putin will join the "great and the good" at the opening ceremony including; George Bush and Nicolas Sarkozy.

Gordon Brown, Angela Merkel, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper are shying away from the event.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

The "Unseen" Adverts

Amnesty International has managed, rather cleverly, to highlight an issue that vexes them without even resorting to an official advertising campaign.

Amnesty's French offices commissioned TBWA to create a series of adverts highlighting China's alleged human rights abuses, in the run up to the Olympics.

The adverts included images of a man being pushed headfirst into a swimming pool, a policeman walking away from a man who has been shot while lashed to an archery target and a woman chained to a dumbbell in the colours of the Olympic rings.

The tag line is:

"After the Olympic Games, the fight for human rights must go on."

Amnesty in the end decided never to show them, because they were too graphic. However, they were entered for a website competition and inevitably ended up circulating on the web even crossing the Great Firewall of China.

The adverts, despite never being officially shown, have caused a huge amount of controversy in China and resulted in a large amount of publicity for Amnesty.

There is one more irony here.

TBWA, which produced the advertisements, also put together a series of adverts aimed at the Chinese Olympics market, including a series for Adidas featuring local athletes and their fans.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The $42BN Olympics

China has spent a record breaking sum of money, $42BN, on the forthcoming Beijing Olympics (due to start on 8 August).

Included in the bill are the costs of the $3BN new airport terminal, and the $500M "Bird's Nest" National Stadium. The last Olympics in Athens in 2004 cost $15BN, and bankrupted the Greek government.

Whilst China may be able to afford this, what of the future?

Which countries seriously want to spend absurd sums of money such as this, merely to hold a two week sporting event designed to promote international consumer brands and to temporarily shore up a faltering government's popularity with their voters?

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Banned Items

With less than a month to go before the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, on 8 August, the authorities are laying down the rules as to what people cannot bring into Olympic venues.

Included on the list are "GO China" banners (on the grounds of fairness spectators will be expected to cheer for all competitors), soft drink containers, musical instruments and whistles.

The BOCOG has also prohibited leaflets publicising commercial activities, religion, politics, the military, human rights or environmental or animal welfare.

Other banned items include; banners and flags larger than two metres by one metre, flags of non-participating countries, flash photography, drunkenness, nudity, gambling, sit-ins, demonstrations, guns, ammunition, crossbows, daggers and goods thought to be flammable, caustic or radioactive.

You have been warned!

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Monday, July 14, 2008

An Olympic Thirst

The Beijing Olympics, which begin on 8 August 2008, are adding to China's water woes.

The San Fransisco Chronicle reports that the games are expected to increase Beijing's water consumption by at least 5%, and that reserves are being drawn down from neighbouring towns and provinces.

The article then goes on to state that:

"According to some environmentalists:

-Half of China's 617 largest cities, including Beijing, face water shortages.

-At least 300 million people do not have access to safe drinking water.

-90% of cities' groundwater and 75% of rivers and lakes are polluted.

-Chinese industries dump 40 billion to 60 billion tons of untreated wastewater into rivers and lakes every year.

-90 million people are exposed to water pollution on a daily basis.

-Beijing golf courses use 21,900 acre-feet of water each year
."

Let us hope that the money earned from the Olympics will be used to address these issues.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

The Dog's Off

Those of you with a penchant for dog, who are hoping to indulge your culinary fantasies in Beijing during the Olympics, are set for a disappointment.

The Beijing Tourism Bureau vice director, Xiong Yumei, has stated that if a customer ordered dog meat restaurant staff should "patiently" suggest another entree.

The Beijing Catering Trade Association (BETA) has issued a circular that forbids all 112 designated restaurants to provide dog meat dishes during the August Olympics. It also strongly advises other establishments to suspend serving dog until September.

Any restaurant found violating the ban would be blacklisted by the association.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Terrorists Detained

Chinese police have so far this year detained 82 suspected terrorists, in the Muslim populated northwest of China, who have been accused of planning to attack the Beijing Olympics in August this year.

Chinese state media say that the 82 belong to five groups that "allegedly plotted sabotage against the Beijing Olympics."

Yesterday Chinese state media announced that police had shot dead five Muslims, who allegedly wanted to launch a "holy war".

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Sakorzy Changes His Mind

Following hot on the heals of the announcement by President Bush that he will attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics 8 August, President Sarkozy of France has fallen into line and said that he will attend as well.

Sarkozy was the first world leader to threaten to miss the opening, in protest at China's crackdown in Tibet after riots and protests there in March.

Sarkozy has now told Chinese President Hu Jintao that he would attend the ceremony on August 8.

The President's Office issued a statement that said that France wants to "deepen its strategic partnership with China".

Money matters, especially when there is an Airbus contract in the offing!

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Final Month

With just one month to go before the opening of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the final touches for the games are being put into place.

Venues and transport facilities are, on the face of it, ready; something that was not a certainty in Athens four years ago. However, there is still much concern about the air quality in Beijing.

The past few weeks has seen Beijing enveloped in smog.

Beijing has budgeted $12BN to clean up the environment before the games, part of that has been allocated to improving air quality.

The IOC maintains that most athletes will be unaffected by pollution. However, those taking part in endurance events lasting more than one hour could be at risk and events may have to be rescheduled.

Given the extensive preparations for the 2008 games, it will be a major disappointment to the organisers if the abiding memory of 2008 was the smog.

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Monday, July 7, 2008

Bush To Attend Opening Ceremony

President Bush has stated that he will attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics on 8 August 2008, despite calls for him to boycott it.

Speaking before the opening of the G 8 Summit on the island of Hokkaido in Japan, Bush said that not going to the ceremony "would be an affront to the Chinese people" that might make it "more difficult to be able to speak frankly with the Chinese leadership."

Given the amount of dollars held by the Chinese, Bush is wise not to "affront" them.

Other leaders, including Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain, are avoiding the opening ceremony to protest China's record on human rights and its dealings in Tibet and Sudan. Brown of course (trying to avoid being controversial) claims that he was never going to go, as he was too busy.

Prime Minister Fukuda of Japan is also going:

"I don't think you have to really link Olympics with politics."

The Olympics is primarily about politics and money, to think otherwise is naive in the extreme. However, as said before on this site, many of those who call for a boycott are hypocrites as they own many products manufactured in China.

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Thursday, July 3, 2008

Asbestos Found

Work on the foundations of the London 2012 Olympics Stadium has had to be halted, because of the discovery of asbestos.

Samples of asbestos were found in the construction site at Stratford, the Olympic Delivery Authority said yesterday.

Work has now been stopped in one section of the site "as a precautionary measure," while construction of the rest of the stadium and Olympic Park continued.

This discovery will doubtless add to the costs.

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