08.20.08 10 years ago 17 Comments

Like everyone else, I enjoyed the splendor of the Olympics' opening ceremonies, but I have to admit that I am shocked — SHOCKED! — to learn (via Lion in Oil) that thousands of performers were subjected to slave-like hours and concentration camp conditions while they rehearsed for the big event.  I mean, who knew that China was capable of ignoring human rights?

Performers have complained that they sustained injuries from slipping during rain-drenched rehearsals or fainting from heatstroke amid hours of training under the relentless summer sun.  Cheng and 2,200 other carefully chosen pugilist prodigies spent an average of 16 hours a day, every day, rehearsing a synchronized tai-chi routine… They lived for three months in trying conditions at a restricted army camp on the outskirts of Beijing.

"We never went out during the time we were training," Cheng, 20, told the AP in a phone interview. "Our school is quite strict. When we stay in school we can't go out on our own, let alone when we're at a military camp."

Even though performers wore adult diapers to negate the need for bathroom breaks, and a young woman was paralyzed after a fall from the stage, the director of the ceremonies insisted that it was the only way to make it look good, citing his work with the New York Metropolitan Opera in 2006:

"In one week, we could only work four and a half days, we had to have coffee breaks twice a day, couldn't go into overtime and just a little discomfort was not allowed because of human rights," he said.

Yeah, "human rights."  Always getting in the way of production.  "Wah wah wah, my legs hurt.  I need to go to the  bathroom.  I deserve to eat.  I need medical attention."  Jesus, doesn't anyone care about getting some work done around here? 

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