Friday, 24 August 2012

Manipulating the Masses

The truth has finally come out -- everyone knew hurdler Liu Xiang was injured -- except his 1.3 billion fans.

The ruse was revealed by CCTV sports anchor Yang Jian on Wednesday, telling the audience that he'd prepared his report ahead of time after he was told that Liu had a serious injury.

"I heard about Liu's injury before the game from my personal sources," Yang said. "My superior asked me to praise this heroic athlete, regardless of the result of the race, which I totally agreed with."

So when Liu crashed into the first hurdle earlier this month, Yang struggled to hold back tears and said, sniffing audibly, "Liu Xiang was like a warrior. Even knowing he'd never make to the end, he still flew."

Now we all know Yang knew in advance what we didn't -- was that fair?

"Liu Xiang Knew, CCTV Knew, the Leaders Knew -- Only the Masses Waited Stupidly for a Miracle to Happen," was the headline of the Oriental Guardian, a commercial tabloid in Nanjing.

And obviously lots of people in China are upset right now. It's amazing we haven't heard reports of overturned cars and riots in the streets yet, protesting about yet another fallacy cooked up by the government.

Some accused CCTV of deliberately hoodwinking the audience.

"What else is going on without informing us?" asked a commentator.

Some 19,000 respondents participated in an online poll on Sina Weibo on Thursday night and 76 percent said they felt cheated after hearing the news.

The other point worth bringing up is that before the Olympics there were concerns of Liu's ankle, as he pulled out of a pre-Olympics race in July and his coach Sun Haiping had mentioned Liu's foot injury beforehand.

And just before the race, state media played down Liu's appearance.

So should the Chinese sport management system finally admit the inevitable and say Liu is retiring for good?

He cannot compete in the Olympics anymore so what is there left for him to do? It would also be too shameful for him to try to get endorsements anymore. This ship has sailed.

It'll be interesting to see Liu put out to pasture... seeing how previous Olympians have fared, ranging from multimillionaires to begging on the streets, one wonders what his next move will be.

In the meantime shame on everyone who was in on the ruse -- including Liu.

It's bad enough that mainlanders have to deal with fake food, terrible air pollution, and corruption.

And now they can't even believe if their sports heroes are for real anymore?

What more credibility does the state have left?

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