Monday, March 8, 2010

Politicizing the Games

Apparently it is imperative that Chinese Olympic champions thank their country for their medals.

Zhou Yang, who won gold in the women's 1500-metre short track speed skating event at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games only mentioned her parents when talking to the media.

In Vancouver, the 18 year old said she hoped the achievement would better the lives of her unemployed parents. Her hopes were actually realised a few days after her win, when the local government of Zhou's hometown of Changchun in Jilin Province gave her parents a 94 square-meter apartment worth about 300,000RMB ($43,950).

"There is nothing wrong to thank your parents, but firstly you should thank the motherland. You should put your motherland before your parents," Yu Zaiqing, deputy director of the State General Sports Administration said in a group discussion of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

He also called for an emphasis on sportsmen's moral education.

First of all, Yu is nitpicking about Zhou's comments. If and when you win a gold medal at your debut at the Olympic Games, you tend to be ecstatic and sometimes you can be at a loss for words to describe utter elation.

For Zhou, her gut reaction was probably to think of her parents and how she hoped her win could better support them financially as before the Olympics she was only making 500RMB ($73.24) a month.

Is it so wrong of her to talk about her parents? After all, they were the ones who made her existence possible for China to win gold.

Perhaps if she didn't make so little money she would of course thank China for her training.

And if it's so important for Chinese athletes to thank the motherland first, then instruct them to do so.

Why put a political downer on such a wonderful achievement?

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