Countdown to 8/8/08

The one-year countdown has begun: it's 365 days until the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The opening ceremonies will kick off the Games on 8/8/08 –- at 8:08 p.m.

The Games are on track to be a financial blockbuster -– an article in yesterday's Wall St. Journal noted that the sponsorship tally "was roughly $1.5 billion so far" -– but the Olympics have also focused attention on issues that plague China, including human rights violations, environmental concerns (including the horrendous air quality in Beijing), unfettered media access (see Mitchell Landsberg's article in yesterday's Los Angeles Times), Tibet, and its role in Sudan (including, of course, concern over China's role in the Darfur crisis).

Actress Mia Farrow's activist group, Olympic Dream for Darfur, is scheduled to launch a torch relay to call attention to China's role in the Darfur crisis. The publicity that Farrow has generated has caused director Steven Spielberg to re-think his position as an artistic advisor to the Games. He's expected to announce his plans soon.

Closer to home, Pasadena Weekly reporter Joe Piasecki recently examined this conundrum: in light of China's human-rights record, should Pasadena's Tournament of Roses re-consider the entry of a Rose Bowl float that celebrates the 2008 Olympics?

The Olympic-themed float, co-sponsored by the Avery Dennison Corp. and the Roundtable of Southern California Chinese-American organizations, fits neatly into the theme of next year's parade, “Passport to the World's Celebrations."

According to Piasecki, the Los Angeles Friends of Tibet, Reporters Without Borders, and Amnesty International (among others) have called on Tournament of Roses and Pasadena officials to " officially advocate for improved conditions in China."


"Los Angeles Friends of Tibet President Tseten Phanucharas, whose birthplace has been subject to widely publicized human rights abuses and cultural oppression under Chinese occupation, told council members Monday that she felt the Olympic-themed float is making a mockery not only of Olympic ideals, but also of Pasadena.

“'It seems to me a city like Pasadena would not like the Rose Parade, their symbol of pride and joy, to be used as a propaganda tool for the communist government in Beijing,' she said."

August 7, 2007 6:27 PM • Native Intelligence • Email the editor

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