I take it there is no room for this Philadelphia sports fan

Posted: April 10, 2008 in Uncategorized

I just could not survive.

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Go, Teams! Learning The Drill In China

Official Cheerleading Squads Taught Etiquette for Olympics

By Maureen Fan

Washington Post Foreign Service

BEIJING — When the Summer Olympics open to great fanfare in August, an estimated 500,000 foreign tourists will be here rooting for their home teams. The Chinese will be cheering, too. They’ve been trained for it.

In a decision that is highly unusual by Olympic standards, the Chinese government has trained hundreds of thousands of official cheerleaders. Most are former state employees drafted out of retirement. They have been taught when to roar their approval and why not to boo other teams, especially those from onetime enemy countries. They will be assigned to events based partly on the decibel levels desired, organizers say.

Athens and Turin, Italy, host cities in 2004 and 2006, each had small teams of Olympic cheerleaders, controversial for their bikinis and their lack of rhythm, respectively. But China’s effort is different in scope and ambition. The cheerleaders here, numbering more than 210,000 and growing, are a powerful symbol of how this country wants to be perceived by the rest of the world: united, strong and of one voice.

Visitors to Beijing should not expect to see armies of Chinese 20-somethings in communist-red tights. The cheerleaders are more likely to look like a sorority of grandmothers, wearing matching T-shirts and equipped with props such as flags, handkerchiefs and “cheering sticks,” inflatable, oblong plastic balloons that generate thunderous applause.

“Higher, higher! Faster, faster! Stronger, stronger!” hundreds of state workers and retirees chanted in deafening unison at a recent practice session, as they slammed the balloons together in neatly choreographed steps. (more…)

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