Friday, 29 August 2008

Chinese ridicule London's part in Olympic Closing Ceremony

Chinese press and bloggers have been less than favourable about London's contribution to Beijing's Olympic closing ceremony – criticising contributions from the London Mayor Boris Johnson and David Beckham.

As the torch was put out in the "Bird's Nest" stadium, one blogger described Mr Johnson as "arrogant, rude and disrespectful" when he accepted the Olympic flag. There were mixed opinions too about the eight-minute cameo performance featuring a London bus, Beckham, the singer Leona Lewis, Led Zeppelin's guitarist Jimmy Page, dancers and singers.

The Titan Sports Daily contrasted the "neatness" of the Chinese performers with the "outrageous outfits" worn by the Britons. Unlike the Chinese custom which tends not to reveal their weakness to the outsiders, "the British seem to like to laugh about their stupidity in a funny way", it said.

"During the performance, when the London bus pulled over, all the passengers waiting for the bus rushed into the door at the same time, which truly damaged the British image," it added. In the run-up to the Games, Beijing officials had run a campaign to "civilise" the city's inhabitants, teaching them of the importance of queuing in Western culture.

It also complained that Lewis and Page were not A-list celebrities. "Unfortunately, the singer and Jimmy Page are absolutely not famous enough to be known or recognised by millions of the Chinese audiences. As for David Beckham, he was supposed to kick the football towards the red circle in the centre of the 'Bird's Nest'. In the end, just like any of his penalties at a football match, he totally missed it. He kicked the ball to the left and it dropped in the crowd, then was picked up by a lucky Chinese volunteer who would not let go of the ball."

The Daily First praised the use of a red London bus, but questioned whether the performance had anything to do with sport or the Olympic Games. Mr Johnson was also criticised for accepting the Olympic flag with one hand only."

Source: The Independent 17/08/08

I must confess that I myself was very disappointed with the 8 minutes British welcome to the Olympic Games of 2012, though not entirely for the reasons given in this article. I thought that Boris Johnson receiving the Olympic flag with one hand was a sign of his strength, much as the commentators praised Chris Hoy when he managed to carry the British flag in one hand briefly during the opening parade. The London bus was a good symbol to use for London and George Beckham symbolised British sport, while the umbrellas were a sign of British weather. However, I couldn't see that any of the rest had any real meaning as an advert for Britain and I certainly couldn't see the whole 8 minute presentation as a compelling invitation/reason to visit Britain in 2012. It was an opportunity missed as far as I was concerned. What did you think?


seethroughfaith said...

Mr Johnson was also criticised for accepting the Olympic flag with one hand only."

in Japan (and presumably China too) it's important to accept a visiting card with both hands, really look at it before putting it in your top pocket or bag/purse

and I expect that's what this comment is getting at.

I think it's a pity that Mr Johnson didn't do some cross cultural studies before he went.

Having the olympics in London is a big honour for the capital of the UK . I will be interested to see how it all pans out. I am a little concered that Britian is so busy bending over backwards to emphasise its multi ethncicity (and that's great in itself) but my fear is that white Christians will be marginalised because of it. I would like to see not only the Union jack held high at these games butJESUS Christ and I do think the CofE is uniquely placed to have such an input -given that it's the state church and the Queen IS the defender of faith.

Let's see.

Olive Morgan said...

Thank you, Lorna, for enlightening us about the custom of accepting with both hands in Japan (and possibly in China).

As far as the Olympics 2012 is concerned perhaps you haven't heard that Share Jesus International shares your concern and that's why they set up Pentecost '08 - to make sure that there was a strong Christian witness in London by 2012. Now they are working on a much bigger programme for Pentecost 2009. You will no doubt hear all about it when you get to Cliff College.