Beijing Olympics: One World, One Dream, One Official Cheer

On Thursday, Reuters broke the unusual story about Beijing Olympics organizers releasing an official cheer or “chanting routine”. It’s for local Chinese spectators who “might be lacking in proper sports etiquette”. (And just in case they’ve gotten some ideas from European soccer fans.)

The UK Telegraph reported today that China has issued official instructions accompanied by cartoons and illustrations showing a young girl in “approved postures”:

In the first frame she is beginning to clap; in the second, doing a thumbs-up gesture; in the third, clapping again; and in the fourth, holding both arms up in the air.

In time, she also chants: “Aoyun! Jia You! Zhongguo! Jia You!” meaning “Olympics! Add petrol! China! Add petrol!

Reuters translates this chant much too literally as “add oil”. The Telegraph translates it into “add petrol” and offers a more contextual translation: “Go, Go!” Or, more fuel, more power, which makes a lot more sense.

Li Ning, president of the Beijing Etiquette Institute (!) teaches people that the chants are flexible and they can — should they be so moved — replace the words “Olympics” and “China” with names of individual athletes or other countries. Apparently this would demonstrate “open-mindedness”. It would also be “in line with general international principles for cheering.”

Wow. Since China is importing much of the world’s best creatives to showcase its growth and power, I wonder if they consulted with these choreographers first. Nothing beats tried and tested popular appeal.

And nothing beats democracy — which we hope gets smuggled in with the other imports. Happy Saturday!

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