Faking Their Way to a Perfect Olympics
Fake fireworks, fake singer, all in the name of "national interest."
BEIJING, August 12, 2008 — -- Eager to put on a perfect Olympics, Beijing has swept its streets of fake designer handbags, pirated DVDs and phony corporate logos.
That dedication to authenticity apparently does not extend to Olympics ceremonies.
In recent days the Chinese Olympics organizers have admitted to faking the "footprint" fireworks that dazzled television audiences around the world.
And today they conceded that the perfect little girl who stole the show while singing "Ode to the Motherland" wasn't singing at all. She was lip synching for another little girl who was deemed -- for the good of the country -- not cute enough for China's national image.
Part of Friday night's jaw-dropping opening ceremonies revealed sweeping shots of the footprints in the skies over Beijing marching from Tiananmen Square north to the Bird's Nest.
Viewers were led to believe they were synchronized fireworks going off across the city.
Days later it was revealed that the images were computer generated and were only seen by those watching television. There were actual fireworks in Beijing but viewers didn't see them. Producers were fearful that they wouldn't be able to properly capture the images live on TV.
At a press conference today, Wang Wei, Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) vice-president and spokesman acknowledged that the fireworks may not have been live.
"On the day of the ceremony there were actual footprint fireworks from the south to the north of the city," Wang said to reporters. "However, because of poor visibility on the night, some previously recorded footage may have been used."
But he did not admit that they were digitally created.
However, the Beijing Times newspaper quoted the head of the ceremony's visual effects team, Gao Xiaolong, saying that a 55-second sequence of steps was digitally recreated because it was impossible to film by helicopter.
Three days after the opening ceremony, the China Daily newspaper headline declared, "Nine-year-old Lin Miaoke becomes instant star with patriotic song."
Her perfect smile and pixie face accompanied by a perfect rendition of "Ode to the Motherland" made her a national sweetheart. Her moment in the spotlight was considered one of the most memorable parts of China's mesmerizing opening.