Olympics Links: How China changed the Olympics, where to watch in Beijing and online, and we turn to Xinhua’s forum for a chuckle

OOPS! Via Daily Mail: “North Korea’s women footballers walked off in protest before their match with Colombia yesterday when the flag of bitter rivals South Korea was mistakenly shown on the big screen in Scotland’s Hampden Park.”

Manchester City just beat the incredibly popular-in-China Arsenal 2-0 in heavy rain at the Bird’s Nest today. The Olympics opening ceremony begins in a matter of hours, at 4 am China time (7 pm London). Here are your Olympic links.

To start, the question everyone wanted — nay, needed — an answer for. “Chinese basketball player Yi Jianlian has been chosen to carry the flag of China at the opening ceremony of the London Olympic Games on Friday.” [Xinhua]

“How China Changed the Olympics Forever.” “…No one seemed concerned about the question of whether, instead of us changing China, China might actually change us. I felt that many of my Western listeners needed to be awakened out of their smug self-centeredness. // …Did China change the Olympics? Yes — since the Chinese leadership invested the Olympics with so much significance, the economic and political powers-that-be in the developed West took them more seriously as well. Romney, whose career got a boost when he was hired to navigate the Salt Lake City Olympic committee through its bribery scandal, will be attending the opening ceremony in London, as will Michelle Obama. The pundits seem to agree that no one will be able to match the ceremonies in Beijing — because of the ‘unlimited’ resources that can be commanded by an authoritarian government — but if London fails to organize an event that is outstanding in other ways, it will be interesting to see what kind of discussion it initiates about the strengths and weaknesses of liberal democracy.” [Susan Brownell, interviewed by Jeffrey Wasserstrom, Asia Society]

The Olympics matter to the Chinese, still. “According to workforce research firm Kronos Incorporated’s survey of 9,500 workers in eight countries, Chinese ranked the world’s most likely citizens to call in sick to watch a sporting event, with 54% of Chinese employees surveyed confessing that they’ve ditched work for having stayed up too late watching or attending an athletic event. That compares to 41% in India and 23% in the U.K., both countries in which sports like cricket can last days on end, according to the survey.” [WSJ]

Ping-pong gamesmanship is the best kind. “On a hot August evening in 2008, his tousled locks subdued by Beijing humidity, Boris Johnson seized the Olympic flag and uttered a rallying cry for London 2012 that will echo down the generations: ‘Ping pong is coming home’. // One might not have expected his Chinese hosts to welcome those words. The world’s most populous nation bestrides table tennis like a bat-clutching colossus, claiming all six medals in the singles and gold in both team events at the Beijing Games. But having produced the Four Great Inventions (paper, printing, gunpowder and the compass), it appears quite happy to give Britain the credit for a fifth. // ‘It’s a fact. It’s true. It was invented by England,’ concedes Zhen Li, before adding: ‘But it was developed in China. And now the English can’t beat us.’” [Tania Branigan, The Guardian]

Who said the Olympics were supposed to be an alternative to war. “Yet it is not the Olympic Games that Londoners object to, but the Olympic occupation. There will be 20,000 soldiers on the streets of London providing security during the games, all in uniform and many armed. That’s around one fifth of the entire British army. Anti-aircraft missiles have been placed on the rooftops of residential tower blocks to prevent a 9/11 style terrorist atrocity. The implication of this is that if a plane is shot down and crashes on the rest of London, then the operation will have been successful.” [Jamie Kenny, Global Times]

Egypt is using made-in-China uniforms as well. Nike should probably lower their prices. “The tracksuits and bags of Egypt’s Olympic team are emblazoned with the familiar Nike and Adidas logos, and the country’s committe chairman says that’s good enough — even though they’re fakes. // ‘We signed with a Chinese distributor in light of Egypt’s economic situation,’ Gen. Mahmoud Ahmed Ali told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Wednesday. // Ali said the real thing was just too expensive, and the state of Egypt’s battered finances led him to opt for the counterfeit gear, which he said was ‘sufficient.’” [AP]

Taiwan flag removed from London street prior to Olympics? “To welcome the 2012 London Olympics, the Regent Street Association that represents hundreds of local London merchants and businesses recently hung up the national flags of the world’s countries throughout the streets of London. Placed alphabetically, Taiwan’s national flag had been hung up near Piccadilly Circus. Just several days later, the Taiwanese flag had suddenly disappeared.” [chinaSMACK]

The tweet that got triple jumper Voula Papachristou kicked off the Greek national team: “With so many Africans in Greece… At least the West Nile mosquitoes will eat home made food!!!” [Deadspin]

Best-ever Olympic torch lighting interlude:


Samantha Wright, the weightlifter the Internet has a crush on. [Buzzfeed]

Places that will show Olympics-related programming. [the Beijinger]

Where to watch online. [Wired]

Finally, finally…

We turn to Xinhua, specifically this comment on its English forum:

What about these photos from the same post, also in color?

Beijing’s is the most beautiful because I’m paid to say it.

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