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  • Beijing Faces Scrutiny in Wake of Coronation -- Media Watch


    08/04/15

    (ATR) Philip Hersh, an Olympic sports writer for the Chicago Tribune, weighs in on the return of the Olympics to China in 2022. 

    Residents of Beijing celebrate the IOC Olympic host election on July 31 (Getty Images)
    "China, which has 1.35 billion people, made approximately that many promises about the improved human rights in the country that would result from Beijing's hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics.

    "After seven years of breaking those promises and creating an atmosphere more repressive than what existed prior to 2008, the Olympics are going back to Beijing."

    In a close vote at the 128th IOC Session in Kuala Lumpur, Beijing was elected as the host of the 2022 Winter Olympics on July 31.

    The result of the voting was 44 to 40, Almaty, Kazakhstan losing to the Chinese capital.

    On Tuesday, several media outlets including the BBC reported that an accusation of "intellectual borrowing" is now hanging over Beijing 2022.

    "Keen (and not-so-keen) listeners have noticed that Beijing's Winter Olympics song sounds suspiciously like a runaway hit from the Disney musical Frozen," the BBC says.

    "Piggy-backing on the massive popularity of Frozen might be just the ticket to dampen down some of the criticisms levelled at the decision - from the lack of snow to China's poor human rights record."

    Like the BBC, National Public Radio says that the accusation does not come as a surprise.

    "Maybe it's not so eerie. Discussing the two songs' similarities online, some commenters say the idea that a Chinese song would cross the line between inspiration and imitation fits with the country's reputation for plagiarism and copyright infringement.

    IOC President Thomas Bach (left) and China's Vice Premier Liu Yandong (Getty Images)
    "And then there are the critics of Beijing's plan to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, who say the reference to Frozen is the only thing that's wintry about the city's bid."

    Randall W. Forsyth, a columnist for the U.S. daily Barron's, says that Chinese Olympic officials will have their work cut out for them in 2022.

    "While some of the facilities from the 2008 Summer Games can be re-purposed for winter sports, there is the small matter of making snow for skiing events, which will be staged in mountains some 90 miles from the capital city.

    "Even though there is little if any natural snow and little water there, Beijing evidently promised it would make the necessary white stuff."

    Writing for Gizmodo, a design and technology blog, reporter Chris Mills takes a closer look at the venue slated to host skiing competition during the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

    "The skiing events will be taking place around the Yanqing Zones, which has 'minimal annual snowfall' - basically, it doesn't really snow.

    "So, the Games will be relying entirely on manufactured snow, most likely made in advance and stored in warehouses, in case the temperatures aren’t quite right in the run-up to the games.

    Mills adds, "To make things worse, that artificial snow is going to be generated in an area already suffering 'severe water stress,' and becoming 'increasingly arid.'"

    Golf at the Rio Olympics

    Rory McIlroy will represent Ireland at the 2016 Rio Olympics. (Getty Images)
    Bob Harig, a senior golf writer for ESPN.com, weighs in on the Olympic golf format planned for Rio 2016.

    "The Olympic golf format is not very original: the same one used week-in and week-out in professional golf.

    "The format has been a source of consternation since golf's return to the Games was announced in 2009, but it was decided at a time when the sport's leaders were not even sure if it would get back in the Olympics."

    Golf is returning to the Summer Olympic Program in 2016 for the first time since 1904.

    ESPN's Jason Sobel, also a senior golf writer, discusses one of golf's "most eagerly anticipated announcements of the past few years."

    Since the sport was reintroduced to the Games for the 2016 Rio Olympics, there existed "palpable consternation over which flag Rory McIlroy would choose to represent," Sobel says.

    McIlroy, currently ranked number one in the world, will represent Ireland at the 2016 Games. The Olympic golf teams will be chosen in July of next year based on the world rankings at that time.  

    In Other News

    Ultimate frisbee is now an IOC-recognized sport. (Getty Images)
    New York Times columnist Victor Mather features 10 IOC-recognized sports, "any of which could, theoretically, be as big as, well, team handball."

    Sports on the list include frisbee, or flying disc, ballroom dancing, floorball, life saving, and tug of war.

    Mather also references the decision facing Tokyo 2020 as organizers mull which sports to add to the program for the Summer Olympics that year.

    The organizing committee announced the IOC-recognized international federations proposing additional events for the Games on June 22. A total of 28 sports are already on the program.

    At the start of the process, the Additional Event Program Panel sorted through 26 interested applicants. On the shortlist are baseball/softball, bowling, karate, roller sports, sport climbing, squash, surfing and wushu.

    Compiled by Nicole Bennett

    Homepage photo: Getty Images

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