Is there a place for Mao in the Olympics?



Inspired by the controversial May cover to the Japanese magazine Brutus, Rocky Leung, creative director for Life magazine (生活), put Mao Zedong in an Olympics shirt:

I have a cover image from the Japanese magazine Brutus whose feature story reports on Beijing’s connection to the Olympics. The cover image is of Chairman Mao wearing Nike-branded clothing.

I’ve altered the picture, making it into a five-rings logo.

I feel that Chairman Mao really should have appeared in the opening ceremony for China’s Olympic Games, because these Olympics are being hosted by a 21st Century China, not a China from before the 19th Century.

Modern China was barely in the opening ceremony at all, and this is a sad thing for the nation.

Commentator Liu Yizhong posted similar sentiments to the Strong Nation forums.

Before the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics, I made a series of posts about the views of Chairman Mao, Premier Zhou, and Deng Xiaoping on sports, and the Olympic Dream of Marshal He Long. The point of those posts was to note that our country’s top leadership greatly valued sports, and that China’s magnificent athletic achievements today are inseparable from the efforts of that earlier generation of leaders.

The opening ceremonies were dazzling, and I watched them from beginning to end. But there was regret amid my satisfaction: I felt they valued the past over the present and lingered on ancient culture and tradition, giving just a brief nod to modern times. Perhaps, I thought, they were so afraid of involving sensitive “politics” that even our leaders’ strong support of sports was something they didn’t dare bring up? In old China, we were bullied by politics and sports faced discrimination as well. It was only when Chairman Mao and his generation of revolutionaries led workers and peasants to revolt and fight against the world that a New China was born and the Chinese people could stand up, gradually growing strong enough to hold their heads high on the world stage, taking part in the Olympics, winning gold medals, and ultimately to fulfilling a century-old dream. This is a fact that no one, not in any country in the world, is able to deny. Why can’t we declare this loudly, and with confidence? Could Confucius have done this? No, Confucius never even dreamt of it; his greatest function was to do his utmost to protect feudal rule. And why didn’t they trumpet China’s economic reforms and its opening up to the world? What were they afraid of? Were they worried that some of the countries in attendance would resist? Why should we look to them for cues on how to act?

These are the Beijing Olympics, so they ought to show off the full measure of Chinese culture and the human spirit, especially in its modern form: “The East is Red” broadcast from the moon, the well-clothed and well-fed Chinese people, Chairman Mao’s flourishing national fitness campaign to “promote sports and improve the people’s health,” how the Sick Man of Asia is gone, never to return….

Without Chairman Mao, would we be able to relax in the Bird’s Nest or in front of our TVs to watch the Olympic Games?

More netizen views on the opening ceremony are available in translation at ESWN.

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