Beijing in my memory, London in my eyes
This week’s digest proposes to look back at the London Olympics and the commentaries they received from Chinese intellectuals online – comparisons with Beijing 2008, or broader reflections on the roles of the media, business interests and the State in organised sports.
Beijing in my memory, London in my eyes
By Bai Yansong, 02 August 2012
This text circulated widely on the Chinese internet, although it did not appear on 1510. It offers a patriotic boost to the readers, and an encouragement to positively acknowledge Chinese achievements since the Beijing Olympics. Bai Yansong favourably compares the Beijing ceremony to the London one – though the latter combined humour and economy, the former was an unparalleled achievement, bringing 5,000 years of Chinese history for the first time within the Olympic tradition. But mostly, the post deplores the ongoing discriminatory attitude of the Western media, who still discriminate against China, and encourages readers to think more highly of their own country.
Marco Polo translation: Beijing in my memory, London in my eyes
Original link: 我所经历的北京，我所看到的伦敦
How can an unstructured sports system be good?
By Guo Xianyuan, 05 August 2012
This ironic essay proposes a reflection on the Chinese national sports system along a sociological line of analysis. Guo Xianyuan starts from the premise that, since Beijing 2008, the ‘Olympic Spirit’ had disappeared, replaced by a desire to showcase the strength of China to the world. At the time, he criticized the elitism of the games – ordinary Chinese people could not participate; they were not even welcome to watch the games in Beijing. What is the significance of the games for ordinary Chinese citizens, and how representative are those selected to go? The system actually caters to the status and honour of those in power more than it serves the interest of the common people. The article then goes to to question whether the current system for training athletes is indeed efficient, whether it is within ‘the Chinese tradition’, and whether it should receive popular support as a way to increase Chinese soft power.
Marco Polo translation: How can an unstructured sports system be good?
Original link: 伦敦奥运：举国体制根本就没有体制，何来是好体制？
The Business Logic behind Liu Xiang’s fall
By Feng Qingyang, 08 August 2012
Liu Xiang, 110 meter hurdler, is one of the most commercially successful Chinese athletes, and a cultural icon for China. In the London Olympics, he crashed into the first hurdle at the beginning of his run, and withdrew from the competition, repeating a similar scenario from 2008. This post analyses the case of Liu Xiang’s withdrawal, and the business logic behind athletic stardom.
Although Liu Xiang’s injury was obviously known in advance of the race, it was not possible for him to retreat, as this would have caused massive losses to advertisers – whereas a staged fall would both allow him to keep face, and minimize losses to sponsors. The audience also played a role, as those who bought tickets at premium price wanted to get their money’s worth. A cynical business philosophy played itself out, whereby Liu Xiang abandoning the race would have seen his brand-value plummet, whereas an accidental injury turned him into an inspirational myth. To conclude, Feng Qingyang acknowledges the burden that Liu Xiang and other athletes bear, invested within the State-sponsored sports system of representing the Chinese nation.
Marco Polo translation: The Business Logic behind Liu Xiang’s fall
Original link: 刘翔摔倒背后的商业逻辑
Chinese cynicism about the London Olympics
By Nanfang Bao Se, 09 August 2012
During the London Olympics, a series of details, rightly or wrongly observed, gave rise to dissatisfaction among Chinese people. Claims were made that Chinese athletes did not enjoy fair competition, that the bar was too high for Liu Xiang, or that Chinese medallists stood on lower podiums. All had a common these: Westerners are discriminating against China, they cannot accept the rise of China. This post, however, criticizes such affected dissatisfaction as a nationalist pose, encouraged by the Chinese media to increase national unity through a shared sense of persecution.
Marco Polo translation: Chinese cynicism about the London Olympics
Original link: 伦敦奥运上中国式的不高兴
All articles in this digest and a large range of other Chinese readings are accessible at Marcopoloproject.org. Some are available in English, French and Spanish translation. (You can join the project if you’d like to help with translations.)
Danwei is an affiliate of the Australian Centre on China in the World at The Australian National University. This posting is a result of one project that is part of that on-going collaboration.