Rings: China Accused of Theatrical Deception
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
Chinese Olympic organizers were so intent on carrying off a flawless Opening Ceremony Friday night that they resorted to theatrical deception on at least two fronts. A televised sequence of 29-foot-shaped fireworks, which seemed to trudge from downtown Beijing to the new Bird’s Nest stadium, included digitally-generated video, officials confirmed yesterday. Concerned that poor visibility might hamper television coverage of the fireworks as they took place, the faked, pre-recorded footage was prepared and inserted into live coverage of the ceremony, the officials said.
In addition, a singing performance by a 9-year-old girl, Lin Miaoke, was lip-synched over sound recorded by a 7-year-old girl, Yang Peiyi, who was apparently removed from the show due to her crooked teeth. A producer of the ceremony, Chen Qigang, said a Communist politburo member who viewed a late dress rehearsal deemed Miss Yang’s appearance unsuitable.
“We had to make that choice. It was fair both for Lin Miaoke and Yang Peiyi,” Mr. Chen told Beijing Radio on Sunday. “We combined the perfect voice and the perfect performance….The audience will understand that it’s in the national interest.”
However, by last night, Mr. Chen seemed to be having second thought about snubbing Miss Yang. “This little girl is a magnificent singer,” he told Associated Press Television News. “She doesn’t deserve to be hidden.”
He said the ceremony’s director, film director Zhang Yimou, knew of the change.
The rejection of the 7-year-old over her far from unusual appearance has generated criticism from many Chinese, though job advertisements here often call for employees to be attractive or of a minimum height.
As for the fireworks, Americans watching on NBC were told the imagery was the director’s work, though it was not made entirely clear that the fireworks were taped and enhanced.
“You’re looking at a cinematic device employed by Zhang Yimou here,” an NBC host, Matt Lauer, said. “This is actually almost animation.”
“We said earlier that aspects of this Opening Ceremony are almost like cinema in real time. Well, this is quite literally cinematic,” another host, Bob Costas, said.
STABBED AMERICAN RECOVERING
A Minnesota woman stabbed at a Beijing tourist site Saturday, Barbara Bachman, is slowly recovering from the wounds she sustained in an attack which claimed the life of her husband, Todd, family members said yesterday. The American Olympic volleyball coach, Hugh McCutcheon, is a son-in-law of the Bachmans and has not been with the team since the attack.
“Volleyball is my job, my family is my life, so that distinction has been very easy for me,” Mr. McCutcheon, a New Zealand native, told reporters at his Beijing hotel yesterday, according to the New Zealand Press Association. “I am passionate about the game, my job, I enjoy coaching, but at this stage it’s very easy for me to focus on the task at hand, which is taking care of my immediate family.”
The coach called the attack, by a Chinese man who jumped off a balcony to his death, “a random act of violence.”
SECURITY BEEFED UP FOR OLYMPIC PRESS
An armored personnel carrier and military personnel with automatic rifles appeared outside the Main Press Center for the Olympics yesterday morning. Extra bag checks were also implemented at some places where reporters are staying overnight. A leader of the Beijing Olympic committee, Wang Wei, said he believed the precautions were related to the knife attack Saturday. “With regards to the stabbing incident, I think relevant authorities may have increased the security level,” Mr. Wang told reporters at a briefing yesterday.
RADIO FREE ASIA TIBETAN SNUBBED AT GAMES
China is blocking a Tibetan-American journalist who works for a broadcasting service sponsored by the American Government from entering China for the Games, according to officials at the broadcaster, Radio Free Asia. Dhondup Gonsar was approved for Olympic credentials, but has been unable to get permission to travel to China. At a news briefing yesterday, officials gave vague answers about the impasse.
“I think the issue is still pending and what is happening is still in the process,” Mr. Wang, the Beijing Olympic official, said.
“When this was raised to us by an organization, we have discussed this with our colleagues, and we understand the process is in course of a pending matter,” an International Olympic Committee spokeswoman, Giselle Davies, said, according to a transcript.