News - Keeping it real in Beijing
What's in the works to make the 2008 Olympics 'distinctly Chinese'
Olympic host cities have a way of putting their own unique stamp on the Games. Sydney had its Opera House and aborigines, Nagano its ancient temple and Sumo wrestlers, Atlanta its tacky souvenir stands and silver pickups.
With Beijing set to host the 2008 Olympics, organizers already appear to have made significant progress toward making the Games "distinctly Chinese." In fact, unreleased internal documents suggest Beijing organizers are going to unprecedented lengths to bring the reality of Chinese life home to athletes, visitors and viewers around the world.
For starters, ushers collecting event tickets will give attending fans a firsthand taste of China's one-child policy, denying entry to all families with more than one child. First-time violators will have their tickets seized; repeat offenders may be subject to forced sterilization.
Others also will run into trouble at venue gates. Identifiable Tibetans will be turned away, as will evangelical Christians, union workers and members of other officially "heretical organizations." Fans who do manage to get in will have their cheering strictly regulated. Those wishing to root for teams other than China will need to file RFPCACs (Requests for Permission to Cheer Against China) with organizers six months prior to the Games and sit in special sections monitored by Communist Party volunteers. Violators will face arrest, detention and deportation.
Several track-and-field events will showcase Chinese themes. Organizers will honor the late Mao Zedong by referring to the long jump exclusively as the "Great Leap Forward." (Begun in 1958, Mao's mass modernization program failed to propel Chinese industrialization but succeeded in producing the worst man-made famine in history and killing tens of millions of Chinese.)
In a salute to contemporary Chinese medicine, relay race participants will pass off not aluminum batons, but Igloo MiniMate coolers containing actual human organs. The organs, all harvested from executed Chinese prisoners, eventually will be routed to local hospitals for transplant into wealthy foreign capitalists or high-level Communist Party apparatchiks.
In keeping with China's revolutionary past, Beijing organizers will unveil a number of new sports. One new event, the "Falun Gong Roundup," will dispatch teams of athletes to public squares. Their mission: to subdue cult members, herd them into unmarked white vans and speed them as quickly as possible to re-education-through-labor camps.
Other new team sports will involve destroying illegal churches, forcing down foreign surveillance planes over international waters, and raising campaign funds for U.S. politicians sympathetic to China. For the new sport of "Stealing Nuclear Secrets From Los Alamos National Laboratory," a full-scale model of the famed New Mexico lab will be created, just for the Games, in the remote sands of China's Gobi Desert.
In the very first cyber-sport in Olympic history, Net surfers from more than 100 nations will attempt to successfully navigate the Web without hitting any of the thousands of sites banned by the Chinese government. Cyber-athletes failing to avoid the forbidden sites will face stiff fines and possible imprisonment.
A number of events will be staged in legendary Tiananmen Square, site of the 1989 democracy demonstration and subsequent massacre. Adding to the excitement and historical realism, athletes competing in the 100- and 200-meter dashes will be trailed by a charging formation of Chinese main battle tanks. The shooting competition also will be staged, appropriately enough, at Tiananmen Square. In a bid to boost the difficulty of the sport — and give Chinese athletes an edge — participants will not fire on static targets but on groups of dissidents culled from China's notorious network of prison camps.
In recognition of their invaluable contributions to the development of China's newest and most accurate ICBM, special sponsorship opportunities will be extended to two U.S.-based companies — General Motors subsidiary Hughes Electronics, and Loral Space and Communications. Suitable sports include the marathon — a terrific illustration of the companies' long-running commitment to communist China — and the javelin throw, a perfect symbolic representation of a nuclear missile in flight.
For the closing ceremony, Beijing won't borrow from the traditions of the ancient Greek games. Instead, organizers will draw inspiration from Rome's Coliseum — and China's own history under communism. Winners will be honored with a great feast and lavished with riches. Losers will be shot.
Luke Boggs is an executive speechwriter living in Alpharetta.??