Category Archives: Olympics 2008

2008 Beijing Paralympics Games – ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

So I sat up until almost 2am again to watch the 2008 Beijing Paralympics Games – ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). I’m glad I did. It was a great opening ceremony — no anticlimax after the main Games, and arguably even better, if different.


It was also just marvellous not to have the ceremony punctuated by commercials! The ABC commentary was better than Channel 7’s had been a month ago, with light touches but genuinely informative — and they knew when to shut up: unlike the commentator in the clip below, I’m afraid. We also found out why Adam Hills was one of the ABC commentators: he himself is missing a foot, something I hadn’t known.

It was heart-stopping seeing that guy hauling himself up hand-over-hand in his wheel-chair!


Posted by on September 7, 2008 in Chinese and China, Olympics 2008, TV


奥运会 – Olympic Games – A view from China « Stumbling on melons

 奥运会 – Olympic Games – A view from China « Stumbling on melons is a must read.

Thanks, Marcellous.

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Posted by on August 27, 2008 in Chinese and China, Marcel, Olympics 2008, other blogs


Tales of war and peace as Games end – Latest News – News – Olympics –

“Tales of war and peace as Games end” is an upbeat story, but let’s focus there just for a moment… There are a few video highlights in my previous entry.

INTERNATIONAL Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said his most memorable Beijing Games moment was the embrace between a Russian and a Georgian athlete.

The war between the two nations over South Ossetia was sparked on the night of the opening ceremony as Russian President Vladimir Putin was in the VIP seats waving to his athletes and vigorously discussing issues with US President George Bush.

Since then there have been the magic moments of Michael Phelps’ eight gold medals, Usain Bolt’s world record, openly gay diver Matthew Mitcham winning gold and a first medal won by Afghanistan. But Rogge chose a political example as his defining Beijing story.

His message was that sport and politics were intertwined and that athletes could overcome adversity…

I’d like to revisit a magic moment from the end of the 2000 Olympics. 🙂

Comments Off on Tales of war and peace as Games end – Latest News – News – Olympics –

Posted by on August 25, 2008 in Olympics 2008, sport


Well, so it’s over!

The quality of the first one isn’t great…

Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on August 25, 2008 in Australia, Australia and Australian, Chinese and China, Olympics 2008, sport


A perfect 10 – Diving – Sports – Olympics –

Matthew Mitcham is inspirational.


From teenage retirement to Royal Easter Show high-diver to gay icon to gold Olympic medallist; Matthew Mitcham’s journey to success has been an amazing roller-coaster.

Mitcham’s pulled off a stunning final dive in the 10 metre platform, scoring an incredible four perfect 10s, to steal the gold off favourite Chinese diver Luxin Zhou. Mitcham finished with 537.95 points.

It was a massive upset defeating the premiere and form Chinese divers Liang Huo and Luxin Zhou in front fierce home crowd.

Mitcham, 20, battled depression, retired in his teenage years after physical and emotional burn-out, then just nine months later resumed his sport in 2007. Last night his triumphant return to the sport was crowned with gold…

One person who has been by his side for the entire tumultuous and now brilliant journey is his partner, Lachlan, he was in the crowd last night courtesy of a Johnson & Johnson Olympic sponsorship.

Mitcham is one of only a few “out” gay athletes in Beijing and the first Australian to openly declare his homosexuality going into an Olympics. He’s been a cover-boy for gay magazines and featured on the cult gossip website accompanied by the tagline: “Yum. Yum. Yum! Can we have a piece of that????”…

His rocky road to the top was worth it Mitcham said last night.

“Coming back and doing everything I did was to win an Olympic gold medal. When I was training every single day, twice a day, eleven sessions a week, thirty hours a week before every single dive I said to myself; ‘I want to win an Olympic gold’.

“It was all worth it.”

Congratulations to all the Aussie medallists. I have a faint idea of what it’s like for friends and family. 🙂 I will certainly never forget the Munich Games of 1972…

For a nation of 20 million we really have done well.

Some too will be taking comfort from another story in today’s Sun-Herald: Arts give sport a run for its money.

A NIGHT at the opera or a day at the footy? Sydney is a city spoilt for choice as millions attend sports and cultural events each year, and an increasing number of people are giving their patronage to both.

In an average week in NSW, more than 100,000 people attend a top-line live sports event and more than 2million people play organised sport. Meanwhile, 25,000 people visit the Art Gallery of New South Wales, more than 9000 go to the Powerhouse Museum and more than 6000 watch a Sydney Theatre Company production…

At the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) an exhibition of the work of Australian photographer Fiona Hall attracted more than 100,000 people, putting the organisation on track for one of its biggest years on record…

We don’t so often hear about this other side of our country though. Thought it worth noting.

— Pic from the Sydney Sun-Herald.


Young Matty goes for Gold and GOLD ! from

…I don’t know if he remembers me… I met him about 4.5 years ago up in Brisbane, when I went to see him and a friend of mine compete in a diving competition. I remember having a long chat to him and introducing him to my Dutch friend Patrick, to whom Matty took quite a liking to. A few chats on MSN after that, but lost track of him later down the track.

Working at the IBC (International Broadcast Centre), I thankfully have the opportunity to view every feed from every venue, before they go to the broadcasters like Ch7 or NBC. So I’ve been watching Matty’s dives in unedited HD, and after watching his prelims tonight I think he has a very strong chance of giving the Chinese a run for their money…

Not wrong, Gus, obviously. 🙂

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Posted by on August 24, 2008 in Australia, Australia and Australian, creativity, Gay and Lesbian, gay issues, inspiration, Olympics 2008, sport


Beijing Olympics: ‘Ethnic’ children revealed as fakes in opening ceremony

Beijing Olympics: ‘Ethnic’ children revealed as fakes in opening ceremony – Telegraph. Now that we are shocked by this…


…and the fake firework footprints and the lip synching little girl, let’s all pause and consider…




…and dressing kiddies up as ethnic minorities…



No fakery among us, eh!

The Opening Ceremony was an outrageously extravagant show when all is said and done, put together by a great movie director, Zhang Yimou. Now we may well question the extravagance, and have no doubt about the propaganda purpose of the whole thing. On the other hand, the 5,000 years of tradition we saw displayed so proudly and so brilliantly is no fake, and that we do well to recall.

We would never orchestrate “reality” for the TV, would we? Make sure you visit the site linked to the following…


Of course, the contrived passage of the Olympic Torch through a sanitised, cordoned off, and beaten down Lhasa was, no doubt, an obscenity…


Posted by on August 16, 2008 in Asian, Chinese and China, Olympics 2008, weirdness


The spell of the Games masks the critical questions | | and a book review

Yes, I like so many at one level sat back and enjoyed the spectacle of the Beijing Opening Ceremony, as indeed one might. Even if there was a bit of high tech trickery with those 29 marching feet — we saw a preprepared digital version of the first 28 apparently — it was worth watching. However, in the cold light of Tuesday in Surry Hills articles like The spell of the Games masks the critical questions deserve to be read. Will such spectacular waste ever happen again?

THE Olympics have a strange power. While the Games are being played, much of the world appears spellbound, never more so than at the start of these Games. China’s Olympics are as much about announcing China’s place in the world as they are about fit young people running, swimming and jumping. Its opening ceremony was an astonishing display of no-expense-spared technical precision and choreography, paying homage to China’s history and proclaiming a bright future. It was watched by billions of television viewers, (almost 6 million in Australia) and cost tens of millions of dollars to produce.

Most of us are happy to sit back and enjoy it, basking in the success of Australian athletes and appreciating the performances of international stars. But, at the risk of being boring while Olympic fever is upon us: is this all a bit much? Was there not a sense during the spectacle that one of its drivers was an insistence this ceremony, and these Games, must be better, more expensive, more awe-inspiring than any before? Will London, which hosts the Games in 2012, now have to go one better or feel like a loser? Is this, really, what the Olympic movement is about?

The question of cost is being asked in China, although only by the brave. Bao Tong, a former senior Communist Party official who was jailed for seven years for his support of the Tiananmen Square student protesters and who has been under house arrest since his release, asked whether China could afford the Games. “There are at least 200 million people in China who still earn less than $US1 a day and you (the Government) are splurging all that money and mobilising everyone to hold a fancy Olympics,” he told Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post

For “tens of millions” read “billions” — whether US or UK usage is followed…

Then too see The destruction of old Beijing: Going, gone from The Economist.

IN A few short years China’s Communists have used the excuse of the Olympic games to level the medieval city built by the great Ming emperor, Yongle. Beijing was long Asia’s ecumenical Rome, but its 2,500 or so religious sites are now reduced to a few dozen temples mainly for tourist consumption. The Communists have also destroyed Beijing’s social fabric, cutting through rich threads of community habit, shared memory and (what always infuriated them) subversive resistance to the madder impulses of higher authority. In different ways, these three books are superb guides to a Beijing that heart-wrenchingly is no more.

 The way it was (pic on right)

Jasper Becker highlights the breathtaking cynicism of this orgy of destruction; even the Cultural Relics Bureau formed a property-development company to pull down buildings in its charge. Yongle had used 200,000 convicts and press-ganged peasants for his project. Today a peasant-labour force of 1.3m has worked on 7,000-odd giant construction sites that have killed, in a hushed-up way, between 2,000 and 3,000 migrant workers a year. As for the city’s residents, Beijing’s average life expectancy is now well below the national average, thanks to smog and urban stress. So much for the promised clean, green “People’s Olympics”…

Which by a rather indirect route brings me to my first book review today: George Monbiot, Heat (Penguin pb edition 2007). As that reviewer says:

You can’t fault him for ambition…

The ultimate irony of Heat is that his prescription is probably the only one that can save this planet from the scourge of global warming, but that, as simple, direct and painless as it is, this prescription has about the same likelihood of actually coming about as a snowball’s chance in hell. Or, perhaps I should say, a snowball’s chance on Earth after Monbiot’s brave, well-researched, and ingenious ideas have been forgotten.

Young George really is a bright chap — and I say young George as he was three years old when I began my teaching career, which makes me feel what I am, a living fossil!

“I am not writing this book to confirm what you believe is true… As always, I seem destined to offend everyone.”

Another reviewer quotes that honest and provocative remark from Monbiot’s book and draws our attention to the website that accompanies the book. I am about to add that to the relevant box in the side bar here!

One of the great advantages of Heat is Chapter 2: “The Denial Industry”. It is devastating and thoroughly documented too. It should be read by everyone, really! What you then make of Monbiot’s proposals — and he is steadfastly “can do” I have to say — I will leave to you. It is rather beyond, to say the least, what is currently on the Rudd government’s agenda.

To get a taste of Chapter 2 look at Monbiot on the obviously rather dopey Melanie Phillips, as seen on the book’s website in Bluffers Corner. Melanie, Miranda — yes, the cap fits…

Go too to

Tell people something they know already and they will thank you for it.
Tell them something new and they will hate you for it.

Better than a cold shower. And we had better get used to them too… If we’re lucky.


Tune for a peaceful night

Played on the guqin, pronounced goo tchin.

That’s a 3,000 – 5,000 years old tradition you are seeing there. In other words, instruments like these were around before David was playing his harp, and even before when Tutankhamen was still alive…

Think about that.

The following video also features the Chinese zither, or gu zheng (goo djeng).

Poem of the peaceful garden.

Mind you, here in Oz we may even go older, back to before Noah, before there was even a Creation, if you are silly enough to believe some fundamentalists…

You did see them in the Olympic Opening Ceremony the other night — all of the above in fact; the instruments, if not the individual artists.


Confucius says: let the Games begin | The Australian

Pretty observant, Rowan Callick. That the Opening Ceremony was a Mao-free zone did occur to me too. And as for Confucius, perhaps these quotations from Simon Leys’ excellent translation of the Analects are apt:

The Master said: “If a ruler could employ me, in one year I would make things work, and in three years the results would show.”

The Master said: “‘When good men have been running the country for a hundred years, cruelty can be overcome and murder extirpated.’ How true is this saying!”

The Master said: “Even with a true king, it would certainly take one generation for humanity to prevail.” — Analects 13.

That first, it occurs to me, would seem to indicate that NSW right now is in desperate need of Confucius. 😉

Sure, last night was about power; it was meant to be awesome. But it is also good to have been shaken a little from our sometimes Eurocentric idea of civilisation.


Yes, I am aware of human rights issues in China. I have after all met people who actually were in Tiananmen Square in 1989. I have met people who went through the Cultural Revolution. M’s own brother was in a re-education camp for two years post 1989… But I have spoken of such matters so many times already.


See Nagging questions amid ruins of Tiananmen by Nicholas Jose, a review of Beijing Coma by Ma Jian (Chatto & Windus). Nick was in China at the time and close to the action. He is also a long-term friend of M — longer than I have been.

ONE of the easiest ways to get into trouble in China is to go public about Tiananmen Square. The massive protests and bloody crackdown there in 1989 are still taboo subjects. The poet Shi Tao, for example, is in jail for revealing in an email the government’s plans for handling the anniversary of the event in 2004.

By putting Tiananmen Square at the heart of his ambitious new novel, Beijing Coma, Ma Jian takes on what is unspoken and unspeakable in China: the physical and psychological violence done to people in the name of the state.

China has changed almost beyond recognition since the 1980s. A new generation has grown up with little knowledge of the past. Even those who can remember are happy to look forward in the belief things keep getting better. But unfinished business remains, surfacing every time the giant square appears on television, filled with smiling faces, to remind authorities they cannot afford to loosen their grip. During the Olympics, reporting from Tiananmen Square will be the most closely watched of foreign media activity.

The protagonist of Ma Jian’s novel is a Peking University student who was involved in organising the 1989 demonstrations and who now, thanks to a stray bullet on the night of the June 4 massacre, lies in a vegetative state, replaying those calamitous events in his mind. In this brilliant image, memory and paralysis come together…

It is probably asking too much of a novel to provide a coherent analysis of Tiananmen Square at the same time as fictionalising a raw and unresolved moment in history. Ma’s protagonist remains disturbingly ambivalent about the questions at the heart of the novel, coming across as a picaresque traveller through the wreckage of 1989.

Could it have been different? Did the students act in vain? Is there another, hidden story? Is change for justice possible, in China or anywhere? Answers slip away as the novel’s remonstration grinds on. The sardonic hero, imprisoned in a needy ego and a body that refuses to die, is left with only the fading loops of memory.


Geremie Barme offers a fascinating cultural reading of the Opening Ceremony in today’s Sydney Morning Herald: Olympics come to life as a painting by Beijing and athletes.

…Zhang Yimou, the renowned filmmaker and director of the show, used a quotation from Mao Zedong to describe the thinking behind the opening: “Using the past to serve the present and the foreign to serve China.”

Most observers noted that Mao Zedong, the party chairman who founded the People’s Republic in 1949 and led the country until his death in 1976 (launching the disastrous Great Leap Forward in the late-’50s and the decade of disruption of the Cultural Revolution from 1966) was entirely absent from this paean to China’s past civilisation. In reality, the Great Helmsman does get a look-in, if only obliquely.

On the unfurled paper scroll that featured early in the show, dancers traced out a painting of mountains and a river, to which is added a sun. It is an image that evokes the painting-mural that forms a backdrop to the statue of the chairman in the Mao Memorial Hall in the centre of Beijing. That picture is, in turn, inspired by a line from Mao’s most famous poem Snow (1936) that reads: “How splendid the rivers and mountains of China.” The poem lists the prominent rulers of dynastic China and ends by commenting on how all these great men fade in comparison to the true heroes of the modern world: the people. The poem is generally interpreted as being about Mao himself, the hero of the age…

But after the spectacular highlights of traditional China, powerful images jostle, appear momentarily and are crowded out as one mass scene after another presses in, or some vignette comes and goes in fleeting glitz. The Chinese voice-over speaks repeatedly about traditional aesthetics and the language of understatement and elegance, but as the show goes on, a certain failure of artistic coherence becomes increasingly obvious.

One Chinese web blogger commented immediately after the ceremony: “We’ve been waiting for this banquet for a long time. Instead what we got was hotpot in which all the flavours have ended up confused.”

People will debate the contents and significance of the visual banquet for some time. What does remain, however, is a Chinese painting which the whole world, through its athletes, has helped co-create.

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Posted by on August 9, 2008 in Chinese and China, Olympics 2008



2.15 in the morning in Surry Hills…

…and I’m going to bed.

Need I explain? 🙂


Yes, I watched the whole thing from start to finish — and Sydney, you’ve been outdone. I may say more later, but that torch lighting was totally amazing!


Mind you, Sydney’s effort was pretty damned good!



ωϊΪΪϊαm §öö’s ßlöġ (Malaysia) has some excellent — really excellent — pictures.


Posted by on August 9, 2008 in Chinese and China, Olympics 2008


There’s a lot you might say about China…

… and I have, often.

But there’s not much you can say about Lang Lang, except “Wow!”

I gather he features tonight.

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Posted by on August 8, 2008 in Chinese and China, inspiration, music, Olympics 2008


06 — Blogging Sydney’s Olympic Year 2000 « Ninglun’s Specials

I’ll be glued to the Opening Ceremony tomorrow night. Despite reservations on several fronts.

Have a look at 06 — Blogging Sydney’s Olympic Year 2000 « Ninglun’s Specials and find 1) what my blogging was like really early on and 2) a bit of a feel for what it was like here in Sydney eight years ago.


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Posted by on August 7, 2008 in blogging, memory, Olympics 2008, personal, reminiscing


China relaxes internet bans for journos – 2008 Beijing Olympic Games – ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

As the news reader said: “What a difference a day makes!” China relaxes internet bans for journos and three hours later Beijing lifts some internet restrictions: IOC.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Chinese organisers have agreed to lift all internet restrictions for the Beijing Games, IOC vice-president Gunilla Lindberg says.

“The issue has been solved,” Ms Lindberg said.

“The IOC Coordination Commission and the Beijing Olympics Organising Committee (BOCOG) met last night and agreed.

“Internet use will be just like in any Olympics.”

ABC journalists in Beijing said they could access internet content about Tiananmen Square and other previously banned websites.

But it was not immediately clear if the restrictions had been lifted outside hubs for foreign media.

That last point remains to be seen. I notice in the flag collection in the side bar that one Chinese user has been to this blog, and that was on 27 July.

Still, the response is at least something, isn’t it. One thing for sure is that China really does want to mount a good Olympics. Here’s just one place I’ll be keeping tabs on:


See also China blocks internet access for foreign media and Chinese authorities’ broken promises threaten Olympic legacy | Amnesty International.


Posted by on August 1, 2008 in Chinese and China, media watch, Olympics 2008


Chinese authorities’ broken promises threaten Olympic legacy | Amnesty International

I thought I would help friends in China out by drawing attention to Amnesty International, particularly to the recent report on the eve of the Beijing Olympics — which I do hope go as well as can be expected.

I further am helping out by tagging certain entries on this blog China forbidden topic. Now that will save the censors over there quite a lot of trouble, won’t it? So kind of me.

Finally, over the fold you will find your very own copy of the Amnesty Report. Can’t be more generous than that, can I?

The day that there are no Five Forbidden Topics will be the day China will have really stood up! 1949 was an interesting start and much good and bad has happened since. I like China and Chinese people, I really do; I mean that.

But there is a goal to aim for… No more Forbidden Topics!

Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on July 31, 2008 in challenge, Chinese and China, Olympics 2008