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Olympic bosses defend faked ceremony song, Chinese news of lip-synching censored

Posted by Author on August 14, 2008

AFP, Aug. 13, 2008-

BEIJING (AFP) — Olympic organisers on Wednesday defended a decision to fake a key part of the Games opening ceremony, as China enforced a virtual media blackout on the lip-synching controversy.

Nine-year-old Lin Miaoke became a celebrity in China after she “sang” a patriotic ballad in front of 91,000 people and a television audience of over one billion during last week’s spectacular show.

But it later emerged the real voice belonged to chubby seven-year-old Yang Peiyi, who was deemed not attractive enough to go on stage, and that the switch was ordered by a politburo member of China’s ruling Communist party.

Wang Wei, vice president of the Beijing Olympic organising committee, said an artistic decision was made by the producers of the ceremony and that he did not believe it was unethical.

“I do not see there is anything wrong with it,” he said.

International Olympic Committee executive director Gilbert Felli also defended the use of a more photogenic double, comparing it to an athlete taking part in Olympic qualification and then being dropped for the main event.

“You have to be sure that the performers and the song, it is at the highest level,” he told reporters.

Asked how Yang’s parents would explain the decision to her, Felli added: “That is what it is in sport, in life.”

Photographs of Lin in a bright red party dress apparently singing the patriotic song “Ode to the Motherland” were published in newspapers and on websites all over the world.

The official China Daily on Tuesday said “songbird” Lin was on the way to becoming a major star, and it quoted her father as saying his daughter had become an international singing sensation.

However the tributes stopped after Chen Qigang, the musical director of the opening ceremony, revealed in an interview that pigtailed Lin was only selected to appear because of her “flawless” appearance and did not sing a note.

“The reason was for the national interest,” Chen, a renowned composer and French citizen, said in an interview that briefly appeared on the Sina.com news website before it was apparently wiped.

“Lin Miaoke is excellent in those aspects. But in terms of voice, Yang Peiyi is perfect,” he said.

Chinese newspapers and broadcasters made no reference to the two young girls on Wednesday. References to the story were also blocked or deleted from the Internet.

Later in the day the official Xinhua news agency put out a brief item on the official reaction to the issue, but it only appeared on the English-language service.

China’s media is under the control of the central government, which also tightly polices the Internet and often deletes or blocks access to items considered unflattering to the country’s leaders.

The song saga may have embarrassed the nation’s top leaders after Chen also revealed the decision to switch the girls was made by a very senior official.

China’s ministry of industry and information technology, which is in charge of the Internet in the country, declined to comment on the issue on Wednesday.

The opening ceremony directed by China’s Oscar-nominated filmmaker Zhang Yimou and featuring more than 15,000 performers won high praise in China and overseas for its breadth, scope and flawless execution.

However criticism began to build after it emerged that another part of the opening ceremony had been faked.

Supposedly live pictures of fireworks depicting footprints moving from central Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to the Olympic stadium in the north of the capital were actually partly computer-generated or pre-recorded for TV, organisers have admitted.

– AFP: Olympic bosses defend faked ceremony song

2 Responses to “Olympic bosses defend faked ceremony song, Chinese news of lip-synching censored”

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