Debasing truth in the Olympics: China’s desire for excellence & the pressure to please the world

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On the opening of the Beijing Olympics on August 8, 2008, we were treated by a sparkling display of fireworks in TV watched by more than 2.5 billion people. It turned out some of the segments of the spectacle were faked, somewhat dampening our spirits. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Then we saw the Chinese girl Lin Miaoke who enthralled an adoring audience of more 90,000 in the stadium with her angelic singing, only to be told later it was not her voice that we heard. The voice was a recording of Yang Peiyi, a chubby girl with unsightly teeth who didn’t look as pretty as Lin, a reason that booted her out of the stage. (Photo Credit: AFP/ImagineChina)

Lately, we shared the riveting triumph of the Chinese Women’s Gymnastics athletes who grabbed the Olympic gold from their American competitors, their closest rivals. The nimble pixie gymnasts undoubtedly commanded superior performance, but their winning was tarnished by allegations that some of the team members were below 16 years old during the competition, in violation of the rules of the Olympics. Though denied by the Chinese authorities, at least one of the girls, He Kexin, was reported to be 13 years, 9 months before the onset of the games.

Such “cheating”, a cheap attempt to impress and gain honor, doesn’t escape the scrutiny of the world. Dishonesty doesn’t synch well with the Olympics spirit which recognizes undefiled excellence, sportsmanship, and friendship. If humanity is to advance the universal values of understanding, competitiveness, and mutual respect, we must steer away from any form of fakery. To be truthful is honorable than to be deceitful. A fake, no matter how perfect it looks, is still a fake. Honesty remains the soil on which civility and trust grow. Photo Credit: Reuters/BlakeM.) =0=

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