When China found out they would be hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics seven years ago, like all countries do, they celebrated. They celebrated, though, for a different reason. Not because of the massive boost to an economy they would see.
They celebrated because they had received a very special gift.
The gift of a second chance.
This was their chance to prove they belong among the world’s elite. It was an opportunity to prove they were a legitimate people with a legitimate government. The bottom line is they needed to restore an image that was destroyed in part to the scenes of Tiananmen Square Massacre.
They knew what was at stake. They knew if anything controlled by them went wrong, the entire world would be watching, the entire world would be waiting, the entire world would be judging.
They prepped, planned and poured billions of dollars into the 7-year long project to impress the world. China built 12 new, permanent venues, eight temporary ones and refurbished 11 sites to make them Olympic friendly.
They spent money cleaning up the streets of Beijing; ensuring people were using manners, using trash cans and using common sense as they opened their arms to a weary world.
China worked so hard to help their reputation leading up to the games. Citizens learned enough English to make an outsider feel welcome. They even changed their way of life by taking cars off the road to help with the pollution problem.
Alright, you get it? China worked hard.
Why then would they risk it all by cheating?
For those of you that don’t know, the Chinese government has been accused of lying about some of their female gymnasts’ ages in order to allow them to compete in this year’s Olympics.
The rules of gymnastics state the competitor must turn 16 years of age by the end of the year’s Olympics. Reports say at least three girls’, He Kexin, Jiang Yuyuan and Yang Yilin, ages are in question.
Have they been caught cheating? No.
They have been accused though, and in the People’s Court, sometimes that’s all that is necessary.
I know I’ve made my judgment and the verdict is guilty. My judgment is all that matters to me.
Passports determine Olympic eligibility, and all three of the girls’ passports say they are or will be 16 this year. However, online Chinese records and local newspaper articles have often indicated that Kexin’s birthday is January 1, 1994, making her 14. Same song, different verse for the other girls.
I know what some of you are thinking.
“Sure they broke the rules, but they did it using girls that are younger than the minimum. How could that help?”
Well, the US team outweighed their Chinese counterparts by an average of 30 pounds per girl. They were also 3.5 inches taller on average. A 4 foot 11 inch girl weighing 80 pounds has an advantage over a 5 foot 8 inch girl weighing in at 130 pounds. Sure I’m using a larger scale, but it’s the same concept.
Most countries, including the US, have younger, more talented gymnasts. The two American star gymnasts Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin were both unable to compete in Sydney four years ago because they were too young.
I was so impressed with the Opening Ceremony. I thought to myself, “Wow, I don’t know if America could do something like this.” It was awe-inspiring.
They started out so well, and though they ended with 15 more gold medals than us, they lost in the minds of millions.
I’m not at all bitter. I’m not trying to discount what the Chinese women gymnasts did, but since they did it I wish they would’ve done it by following the rules.
Let them keep their gold, and let them think they did it fairly. We might have to live with silver this year, but they have to live with themselves.