A Western view of the Olympics
I couldn't watch any of the events today because I spent all day trying to find the secret microphones the Chinese secret service must have planted in my room... But I couldn't find anything. They are fiendishly clever, writes Manas Chakravarty.Updated: Aug 09, 2008 23:01 IST
Day one: As a hotshot sports reporter, the first thing I did after arriving in Beijing (apart from putting on a gas mask) was to check my internet connection. I lost no time in logging on to the net and immediately googled for ‘Dalai Lama’. Imagine my shock, and horror, when the search threw up a blank page. Next, I tried searching for ‘Tibetan uprising’ and ‘Tienanmen square massacre’ and was met by more blank pages. How on earth can I cover the Olympics properly if the government does not allow me access to these sites? Let's suppose, hypothetically, that an athlete is a member of the Falun Gong, a religious sect banned in China. Since all Falun Gong sites are blocked by the government, how would I report on that athlete?
Enraged, I went up to a policeman on duty and hissed, "Down with totalitarianism", but he just smiled. These guys haven't been taught English, for obvious reasons. Oh, I almost forgot — I also watched some athletes running about.
Day two: I couldn't watch any of the events today because I spent all day trying to find the secret microphones the Chinese secret service must have planted in my room. I felt under the bed, took the airconditioner apart and even tried to pry the bathroom mirror from the wall. But I couldn't find anything — these people are fiendishly clever.
Day three: I interviewed an athlete who came last in the marathon. Here's the interview:
Me: Why did you do so badly? Was it the smog?
Athlete: No, I fell down.
Me: Did you fall because you couldn't see where you were going in the smog?
Athlete: No. Excuse me, I'm not feeling too well.
Me: Are you not well because of the pollution?
The guy then moved away, obviously scared of the secret police. Also, Michael Phelps won another gold. The US medals haul is getting bigger.
Day four : I spent the entire day measuring the interval at which police cars swept down the road in front of my hotel. On an average, there was a police car every five minutes, proving that China is a police state. Our basketball team played well today. The US is still on top of the list.
Day five: Today I took an interpreter and went all the way to the outskirts of Beijing. The natives seemed friendly, but I knew they had been instructed to smile at foreigners. I was finally able to find a couple of people whose houses had been demolished when the new Olympic stadium was being built. They spoke out against the injustice. At the end of the day, I was happy that I, a sports reporter, had been able to expose injustice in China.
By the way, Guo Jingjing won the diving gold.
Day six: Today was the final of the gymnastics event and I went to see Yang Wei, the Chinese gymnast. As we all know, Chinese gymnasts are taken from their homes at a very tender age and made to practice day and night. I finally managed to get an interview with him. Here it is:
Me: To what do you owe your success?
Yang: To hard work.
Me: They must have really made you work very hard.
Yang: Actually, I quite liked it.
Me: But you didn't like it when you were young?
Yang: (smiling) Not much.
Me: Did the early training leave any psychological scars?
Me: Never mind. How come you didn't say anything about your parents? Is that because they took you away from them at an early age to concentrate at gymnastics?
Yang: I have no idea what you're talking about.
I'm getting worried, the Dark Side are winning too many medals.
Day seven: Today was a Black Day in Olympic history. The Chinese medal tally is now more than that of the US. The Red Peril is upon us. Good has lost, Evil has won.