Sure, Americans are superficial, but in terms of national sensitivity, no country is more image-conscious than China, and nowhere was it more evident than the 2008 Olympics. Their ceremonies were–to put it mildly–extravagant and the precision and execution of the games themselves were testaments to a discipline nonpareil.
But there are significant (potential) sources of embarrassment for China, not the least of which include human rights concerns, Tibet, Darfur, and I’ll just stop now before they treat SbB like they did Jennie Finch and a handful of her fellow Olympians. USA TODAY reported today that before the Olympics, China put together a list of “potential troublemakers” on the American squad and asked American officials to squelch any possible demonstrations. Touchy much?
The names included softball players Jennie Finch and Jessica Mendoza and soccer player Abby Wambach, who broke her leg and missed the Olympic Games. It also included two Paralympians, one athlete who wasn’t a member of the 2008 softball team and a top female collegiate golfer. Golf is not an Olympic sport.
“The subject matter had to do with information the Chinese have received regarding the intention of certain members of the U.S. Olympic team to stage some sort of demonstration at the Games, perhaps displaying banners or wearing apparel or wrist bands bearing political slogans,” the e-mail stated. It added that Shu said “many of them” were “apparently associated with Team Darfur,” an international coalition of athletes committed to raising awareness about the crisis in Darfur, Sudan.
Wambach, you might recall, had been quite outspoken in her criticism of China before the injury sidelined her (odds that her broken leg was the work of the Chinese? 0.00%. But it’s fun to imagine anyway), so credit goes to the Chinese for at least doing their homework there. She even said her inclusion on this list “may be the biggest compliment of my life.” But the USOC thought this was so silly, they didn’t even bother telling the players they were on the short list… and nothing happened anyway.
And c’mon, China: Wrist bands? What does it say about your country’s grasp on power if a single wrist band is going to cause everything to come crashing down? We’re screaming straight past Vanityville and headed toward Paranoialand at that point. It’s not healthy and it never ends well. Just ask Barry Bonds.