New Olympics Funny Olympics

I’ve always said that my primary reason for wanting to be in Beijing during the Olympics this summer is that the comedy potential is unlimited.  Of things that are funny, there will be no end.  This is not in doubt, and a story coming out of China today only confirms this.  It’s being reported by one of my favorite Beijing-based blogs, Danwei, and it’s about the newly unveiled official Olympic cheer.  The link to the article and a video clip is here, but let me copy it out for you below:

The cheer is a joint product of the Party Office of Spiritual
Civilization Development and Guidance (GODPP), the Ministry of
Education, BOCOG, and CCTV. Here’s an illustrated guide, which will appear on television and promotional posters in the near future:

Step 1: Clap two times (while chanting 奥运, “Olympics”)

Step 2: Hands in fists with thumbs up, arms extended upward (while chanting, 加油, “Let’s go!”)


Step 3: Clap two time (while chanting 中国, “China”)


Step 4: Hands in fists, arms extended outward and upward (while chanting 加油, “Let’s go!”)

OK, let me get this straight—-it took a government committee to come up with this cheer???  A joint committee made up of representatives from 4 different entitities?  And I just love that one of them is called “The Party Office of Spiritual Civilization Development and Guidance.”

Li Ning, president of the Beijing Etiquette Institute, described how the cheer can be adapted to different contexts (from The Beijing News):

At yesterday’s ceremony, Li Ning explained that the uniformity of
the cheer contained a multitude of variations. It could be “Go
Olympics! Go China!” as well as “Go China! Go Yao Ming!” or “Go Brazil!
Go Ronaldino!” It will work to give encouragement to every country and
athlete in competition.

She said that the civilized cheer “Go Olympics! Go China!” expresses
the “Citius, Altius, Fortius” Olympic spirit and is in line with
general international principles for cheering, while at the same time
possessing characteristics of Chinese culture. Overall, the cheer
unites both gestures and words into a smooth, flowing whole.

There’s a Beijing Etiquette Institute???  How can I become a member of that?  I’m glad that Li Ning saw fit to point out all the variations that could be used with the cheer.  That’s quite nice of them to make their cheer available to other countries and athletes as well.  Here’s another question–what exactly are the ‘general international principles for cheering?’ And other than the fact that that the cheer is chanted in Chinese, what unique characteristics does it possess? Oh dear, these are the questions that might keep me awake at night.

What they need are some of the good cheers we used in college.  My personal favorite was “What do you want? What do you want? Dog meat! Dog meat!  How do you like it? How do you like it? RAW RAW RAW.” I think that athletes from China’s northeast would be particularly encouraged by that one.  Another one we liked was “Rah Rah ree, kick ’em in the knee!  Rah rah rass, kick ’em in the other knee.”

Something tells me that GODPP (Party Office of Spiritual Civilization Development and Guidance) would not approve. Definitely not harmonious!!!