AUGUST 16, 2008
(STAR) By Wilson Lee Flores (The Olympics remain the most compelling search for excellence that exists in sport, and maybe in life itself. — Dawn Fraser, Australian swimmer, three-time Olympic winner)

(The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well. — Pierre de Coubertin, founder of modern Olympic Games)

One of the fascinating phenomena of this exciting 21st century is the fascinating new technologies which surprise and delight us no end. Today, even the historic US$42 billion, 17-day Beijing Olympics — billed as the greatest show on earth and with the finest athletes of the world competing for glory in a rising China which is celebrating its stunning economic and cultural renaissance — will be shown on the remarkable online video-sharing website YouTube.

No, this YouTube coverage of the Beijing Olympics won’t include the illegal and controversial spoiler footage shown by a South Korean TV station of portions of the opening ceremonies’ rehearsals, which by the way had been quickly yanked off the site. I didn’t click that video at YouTube, because I and my friends at Anvil Business Club had booked a function room of our fellow officer’s Astoria Plaza Hotel in Ortigas Center, Pasig City for an August 8 buffet dinner so we could together watch the pay-per-view live, no-commercial telecast of the much-anticipated opening rites directed by moviemaker Zhang Yimou.

NBA, LeBron James, Phelps, Liu Xiang, Federer at a click

For this ardent sports fan and enthusiastic supporter of the Beijing Olympics, I couldn’t help but be thrilled by this announcement: “While you can track Beijing Olympics 2008 through different ways, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has finally launched an online channel to broadcast Beijing Olympics 2008 and has selected YouTube to stream the huge Event Video.”

Wow! We could now keep track of the NBA’s LeBron James-captained Dream Team (also called the Redeem Team because basketball’s only superpower, the US, hopes to redeem itself from its humiliating 2004 Athens Olympics bronze medal), Chinese track superstar Liu Xiang, tennis greats Roger Federer and rival Rafael Nadal, US swimming sensation Michael Phelps (who hopes to make history by outdoing US sports icon Mark Spitz’s 1972 Munich Olympics record seven gold medals), Chinese champion diver Guo Jingjing (more beautiful than top actress Zhang Ziyi!), the gymnastics, diving, soccer and other great sports competitions via the click of our laptops or computers — all thanks to YouTube.

The report continued: “The International Olympics Committee has recently declared that Google will stream three hours video each day to cover an exclusive sports content. Instead of a live coverage, the three-hour transmission will include daily summaries and highlights about the event on their Olympics-dedicated channel. YouTube has joined the bandwagon of ever-growing services that are available to cover Olympics and has confirmed a deal to transmit only the ‘copyrighted’ material, eliminating the chances of various clips being uploaded by scalable fans and spectators.”

The report added: “Apparently, YouTube’s Olympics dedicated Video Streaming will be accessible in more than 75 places that are not covered by Olympics Sponsors (including South Korea, Nigeria and India), while they can also earn ad revenue by selling their ads to Olympics Sponsors only.” The purpose of this arrangement is to make the Beijing Olympics available every day to many developing nations. Long live true people’s democracy via the magic of Internet technology!

Beijing Olympics as an inspiring Cinderella Story

At recent sessions of my Asian Civilization classes at the 106-year-old La Consolacion College Manila (why and how I was invited to teach there is a long story for another column), I discussed the upcoming Beijing Olympics and tried using history to explain the phenomenon of China’s spending so much money and its Herculean efforts to make this dazzling sports extravaganza a success.

I asked the college students what their favorite telenovelas were and I told them whatever their titles, the basic plot remains similar to that age-old favorite, Cinderella: the story of an oppressed girl who perseveres through tribulations and persecution but who in the end resiliently triumphs against cruel odds.

The Cinderella story of triumph against cruel odds and a tragic past, I told my students, is the essence is what is driving leaders like President Hun Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao and ordinary citizens all over China to exert their best in staging the most modern, efficient and glittering Olympics ever. No amount of Western politicians’ or media criticisms of extraneous issues like Tibet, Darfur, human rights and others can discourage or derail the Chinese nation’s genuine Olympic fever.

Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan wrote: “All Olympics are a manifestation of national pride, but that concept has been turned up several notches in the case of the Chinese, who are acutely aware of their oppression at the hands of Europeans in the 19th century and Japanese in the 20th. The young people of China have been educated to think that the 21st century will belong to them, and so, in a very real sense, that century of Chinese destiny actually begins tomorrow (August 8) night at 8, Beijing time, when the opening ceremonies commence. Stand back, world: 1.3 billion people are coming through that door.”

Before the remarkable economic resurgence of China as the new global superpower of the 21st century, two other Asian nations in the 20th century had also made use of the Olympic Games as their stage to showcase their own inspiring Cinderella story — post-World War II defeated Japan in the 1964 Tokyo Olympiad and post-Korean War divided South Korea in the 1988 Seoul Olympiad. They showed the world then that we Asians can triumph against hardships and excel.

In a different historical and metaphysical context, another country in western Asia has achieved a miracle after their people’s most horrific and darkest period, the Holocaust of six million Jews by the Nazis — the Cinderella Story of the 1948 reestablishment of Israel after over 2,000 years in worldwide diaspora, pogroms and persecutions. They never wavered in their belief in God’s promise of their nation’s redemption, and the Jewish people never gave up in their struggles against cruel odds.

I challenged my students at La Consolacion College Manila and now I ask you, readers: when shall we in the Philippines — now a nation with over 10 percent of the population scattered in a global diaspora due mainly to cynical excessive corruption by many politicians resulting in lack of economic opportunities here in our own shores — aspire for and achieve our own modern-day Cinderella story?

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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