the shine wears off

What are we on—five days? Six days into the Beijing Olympic Games? After a brilliant, jaw-dropping Opening Ceremony, and lots of encouraging talk about international goodwill and healthy competition and sportsmanship... the shine is starting to wear off. Some semi-controversial items in the news...

So... that cute little Chinese girl who sang "Hymn to the Motherland" during the Opening Ceremony? The girl whose voice just melted your heart? Yeah. Cute girl... but not her voice: The Chinese pulled a Milli-Vanilli during the Opening Ceremony.

Turns out, ceremony organizers thought 7-year-old Yang Peiyi didn't have the "right look," and swapped her out at the last minute with a cuter, more telegenic girl, Lin Miaoke, who lip-synced to a pre-recorded tape. That's is seriously messed up. More here: Olympic girl seen but not heard.

Bela Karolyi, the "Vince Lombardi of women's gymnastics," is not cool with the apparent ages of members of the Chinese team. The current minimum Olympic age for gymnastics is 16. While the Chinese team is "officially" old enough (the required documentation checks out), they still look an awful lot younger than 16: Karolyi accuses Chinese of age-old problem.

I'd argue, hey, they're Asian! Asians are blessed/cursed with youthful faces. And they're on the tiny side. But I was watching the gymnastics broadcast... and damn, those kids do look really young! Not that it matters anymore... no one can really do anything about it, and the Chinese team won the gold: Golden girls no more, Americans beaten by China.

Finally, here's a pretty interesting editorial from Yahoo! Sports on Yao Ming's significance to the Beijing Games, and the unfair, unending obligations he's had to the massive "unrelenting Chinese sports machine": Yao has delivered, now it's China's turn. The guy has given so much of himself, throughout his entire life, both on and off the court. It's time for China to lay off some of the pressure and let him be.

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