First it was revealed that the “footprint fireworks” that people witnessed in Beijing during the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics weren’t shown live on TV, but that international viewers instead saw a digital reproduction.
Then came news today that the adorable Chinese girl who stood on stage during the ceremony and sang “Ode to the Motherland” was actually lip-synching because she was cuter than the girl whose voice organizers wanted to use.
Turns out someone from the ruling Chinese politburo asked for the last-minute change to match the perfect face with the perfect voice, as it seems the girl who actually did the singing, Yang Peiyi, has less than perfect teeth.
This being China, his wish was someone’s command.
“The audience will understand that it's in the national interest,” the ceremony’s chief music director, Chen Qigang, in an interview with Beijing Radio.
Maybe, maybe not. It almost certainly was in Chen’s best interest if the call came from the government.
The China Daily, the official English language newspaper of the government, hailed the (alleged) performance by Lin Miaoke and said she was an “instant star.” Sounds to us like maybe Lin “Karaoke” would be a better name for the girl, not that any of this is her fault.
Miaoke is something of a star in China, according to Associated Press, and she has her own blog (http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/indexlist_1321880115_1.html).
AP notes that this is the second straight Olympics where the opening ceremony had lip-synching. Luciano Pavarotti’s voice was pre-taped when he sang at the opening of the Turin winter games in 2006, reportedly because it was too cold for the famous tenor, who was sick with cancer at the time and died in 2007.
No word yet on what Vancouver 2010 organizers have planned, but this latest controversy will almost certainly have them thinking twice about pre-taping or pre-recording anything.
It's all a bit much, and we're starting to feel like all is not what it seems to be in China.
A reporter from the Sunday Times who sits nearby in the Main Press Centre turned to me during a discussion on the topic and said, without a trace of irony, "Maybe we're not really in Beijing."
For more on this story, check files by our Beijing correspondent Bill Schiller both at the star.com and in Wednesday’s Toronto Star.
MAYBE NOT A GOOD IDEA
Upon arriving at the Main Press Centre today (imagine that), Toronto Sun good guy Rob Longley and I spotted an old Chinese army tank perched on the parking lot. Some folks were clambering on top and having their pictures taken, which is kinda fun I suppose.
Longley turned and said, “Hey, maybe you can take a picture of me lying down in front of it.”
Uh, I don’t think that would be particularly wise. The Chinese have come a long way, but I don’t think I’d tempt the gods – or the ghost of Chairman Mao - with that one.
BUT IT’S LESS FILLING
China diver Huo Liang was savouring his victory in the men’s synchronized 10 meter platform event and decided to try the de rigeur photo op by putting his prize between his teeth.
“The gold medal, when we bite it there’s not much taste,” he said.
ONE HUMP OR TWO
The Canadian Olympic Committee is giving out fun, little cards with pictures to show folks in China who don’t speak English. Most are obvious things like a picture of money or a doctor and such. But one section shows an international red slash symbol to show, apparently, to people in a restaurant.
There are pictures of things like peanuts and shellfish, but the weird item, as noted by fellow journo Josh Brown of the KW Record, was a picture of a camel. I don’t even want to know what restaurants in town would need to know about camel allergies. Or any places that serve them.
TRICYCLE BUILT FOR TWO
Here’s something you don’t see everyday. Reports on the official Olympic News network say a 97-year-old grandmother travelled 2,400 kilometers on a tricycle to support the Chinese badminton team at the 2008 Games.
Xiao Xincui, who they call Old Xiao, apparently was pedaled about by her grandson, Liu Xianghui.
The story didn’t say how big the trike was, but apparently the grandson appreciated the way his grandmother took care of him when his father died and wanted to thank her with a trip to the Olympics.
The pair left Hunan on March 5 and arrived in Beijing April 11, the story said. Which seems pretty tough on a tricycle, but there you go.
Grandmother and grandson have been given tickets to see the 110 meter hurdles final later in the Games, where they hope to see Chinese star Liu Xiang.
PAINT IT BLACK
American canoeist Benn Fraker finds himself a little bored some times. To pass the time, he has started painting his fingernails black.
“I spend that much time training, when I’m not paddling I like to spice things up a little,” he said.