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For NBC, Others an Olympian Online Bonanza

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[qi:004] Liz Miller says that these days all people are talking about is Michael Phelps, the winningest Olympian, and a former presidential candidate’s lover. Eric Schmidt, director of media and advertising evangelism at Microsoft, tells that nearly 2 million people tuned in to watch the Beijing Olympic Games on NBC’s web site, making it one of the much-watched online events. The interest is peaking elsewhere as special Olympics-oriented sites created by Yahoo, AOL and others are experiencing a big bump. I am not one of those 2 million, and probably won’t be. I am giving the Olympics the pass (not that anyone cares or should care), as a silent personal protest against China and its policies against Tibet.

My silent protest is also against the impotency of the global corporations that kowtow to China in the hope of someday making money off the booming Chinese market, or the world media that seems to be playing along with whatever limitations China seems to have imposed. I am glad to find that there is at least one other person who shares my feelings.

Today, for instance, YouTube took off a video of a protest held outside the Chinese consulate in New York City at the request of International Olympics Committee, because the video shows the five interlocking rings. Is beaming five interlocked rings on the screen a copyright infringement? Is the IOC looking for royalty payments or did the Chinese make them put some pressure on YouTube? Has the IOC become a collection of shylocks, looking for their next pound of flesh and having sold their Olympian ideals in the process? In comparison, somehow the dalliances of former presidential candidates seem less dirty.

20 Responses to “For NBC, Others an Olympian Online Bonanza”

  1. I think those athletes are pretty amazing at what they do, and it’s definitely entertaining for me to watch them. However, people have a habit of taking things for more than what they are. Olympic is a sporting event, nothing more or less, but the list of things that people connect with a sporting event goes on and on…

    1) politics (no brainer)
    2) economy (“things might just turn around if we win the game”, sound familiar?)
    3) personal/national pride (no brainer)
    4) dietary choice (don’t eat dogs)
    5) clothing choice (don’t wear fur)

    on and on.

  2. China has recently deployed 150 of its latest ballistic missiles at Taiwan, adding to a total that tops 1,400 ballistics, just weeks before the games.

    2 Japanese journalists were beaten a week before the games.

    4-5 months ago, there was a bloody crackdown in Tibet.

    It’s pretty obvious that the Chinese government doesn’t care and hopes that something shiny will change the minds of the gullible.

    Meanwhile at least 4 provinces have the majority without access to potable water, those parents that questioned why only government buildings collapsed during the Sichuan earthquake are getting silenced, human rights has continued its dive, and nothing substantial has improved other than foreign economic investment.

  3. Hi,

    The problem with the above view is that it is so often based on ignorant self-righteousness (and moral superiority of ones own country) that mostly ignores the reality and practicality, and the complexity of the political, let alone modern, world.

    When I was a child I learnt a rule concerning manners, also known as the country-side rule, it went something like this: live by the rules of where you are, not how you’d act in your own environment.

    The great thing about the Internet and satellite television is that it allows us to compare and contrast, see the wider world, have access to plural thought, presentation, information and where they don’t occur. This also means access is gained to american media, and a realisation of how little enlightenment occurs.

    I wonder, of those who are getting so easily judgmental about a province of china that has got a lot of foreign support based on a charismatic leader and ignorance about the local culture and span of sovereign history, feel about the area of china where muslims are equally repressed and there have been bombing in retribution, or how about the various oil companies that operate and get their oil from other repressed areas of the world, or break environmental regulations, or the well of ills that is Israel (where most in the west, as on most subjects, live in complete ignorance of the details and strategy).

    If you want to get a handle on the world, this wouldn’t be the worst place to start:

    If you want to get along in the world, you need to decide what your morals are going to be and actually live by the reality rather than the myth, which the self-righteous seem to especially like believing in, and not be a hypocrite, be fair; which means if you’re going to do any more than the superficial and comfortableness of avoiding watching some sport in a country many miles away on a TV, you could start by needing to leave america.

    Kind regards,

    History and Humility

  4. The opening ceremony was just marvlous and anyone who can’t see that is either lying or just can’t stand the progress of that country.
    You got to give it to the country afterall they are still a developing country and to achive something like this was an achievement which is no less than China’s equivalent of landing on moon.

  5. It it unbelievable what China can get away with – Tibet, controlling content on Google and Yahoo search results, censoring information about the girl that mimed in the opening ceremony and now YouTube also. I can understand that media is biased but never thought would see such open and bold censorship.

    I would not be surprised if the IOC is hesitant to give China another chance to host the Olympics in the future.

    For my part, I am watching the Olympics but trying to minimize my use of Made in China items…..which is very difficult, especially with kids.

    It is absolutely sad that some readers here are making this an India vs. China episode.

  6. Impatient

    Not true on Tibet. There were plenty of people who cared about Tibet before the Games, but the torch relay became a venue for calling attention to it. Sometimes that’s the main thing a movement needs: a venue.

    I think the corporate kowtow to China is disgusting. The opening ceremonies in particular were 3 hours of spare-no-expense government propaganda, and NBC never once recognized it.

    On the other hand, I also believe that the surest way to peace between two countries is open trade relations. When nations have an economic interest in getting along, somehow they manage to do so. So I am of two minds on this.

  7. Om, unfortunately the ideals of peace in the world at least for the Olympics time have long gone and it is way too often that the Games are used to attract attention to the problems that exist anyway. Did China treat Tibet in any better way before the Games? Honestly, I don’t think so, but no one cared until China has become the host for the Olympic Games.

  8. Good call on the silent protest. I think a lot of people are fairly upset with the current Olympics charade. The IOC and corporate sponsors have done a lot to kowtow to and appease the Chinese government. A common refrain has been they want to avoid making China “lose face.” But a simple threat of face loss is probably the only thing that would have precipitated any real change in China. Since none of the official sponsors stood up for western values the situation is now worse in China than it was a few years ago. Watching the Olympics would make me feel like I went along with all this and it’s okay. I think it’s not okay.

  9. Did you read this article out loud before you hit publish?

    “special Olympics-oriented sites”

    I’m thinking that “niche” would have worked better there. :)

  10. The modern games (and the IOC) are more focused on ‘monetizing attention’ than authentically promoting the values dignitaries preach from podiums (at opening/closing ceremonies). At the end of the day the Olympics are literally and figuratively just about the “gold”.

    Sure global corporations appear to be kowtowing to China in search of a piece of the economic action but a bigger issue looms. With US government surveillance of it’s own citizens at an all time high and China holding record levels of US debt there’s a disturbing kind of ‘harmonization’ underway between the two countries [more specifically, their respective governments] and the stakes, particularly for Americans, are incredibly high.

    Let the games begin…

  11. The IOC jealously guards all use of their symbols and the Olympic name. When Nancy Greene, a former gold medal Olympic (and Canadian) skier, named her new hotel at Whistler in the mid-80’s as the Nancy Greene Olympic Lodge, the IOC forced her to change the hotel’s name when IOC became more aggressive in the early 90’s about protecting use of the “Olympic” name. Not that they wanted any money in this situation, they just did not want their name associated with “lodging” establishments as it would impugn endorsement under unregulated circumstances. (Somehow the Greek airline of the same was “grandfathered” using this name when IOC decided to get more aggressive.) Bottom line: the rings cannot be used anywhere without their approval – they are not a public property.