Monday, August 11, 2008

Chinese Officials To Crowd: "Applaud Or Else..."

The NY Times reports that Chinese authorities are herding fans to certain contests in order to make it seem like they care about foreign athletes: "Many of the spectators were from China and wore matching shirts. They were brought in by Olympics organizers to help fill the venues and add to the atmosphere with choreographed cheers."

Like the cheerleaders who clapped wildly for over two hours as athletes marched in during the opening ceremonies (creepy), fans, too, must be told where to sit and when to applaud.

And a note on Podium Café indicated that, despite promises to the contrary, many fans were not allowed along the route of the men's cycling road race. Maybe they couldn't read the cue cards written in Mandarin telling them when to cheer and so were kept away from the cameras.

There is nothing like fake spontaneity and choreographed cheers to get my Olympic fever spiked... (the ellipsis = irony). While I despise the overly enthusiastic flag wavers, too much crowd control and forced enthusiasm may be even worse.

Note to Chinese organizers: half empty stadiums would be better than cheers from the Stepford Wives.

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