Close to 200 athletes from the Southeast Asian region are participating in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The big news (as far as the region is concerned) during the opening ceremonies are the exclusion of Brunei during the event and the “improper” waving of the Singaporean flag by the country’s flagbearer.
Brunei was expelled from the opening ceremony because it failed to register on time its two participating athletes. Kati-Ella is angry:
“How could Brunei's Olympic Committee miss the deadline to register our athletes? What do these people do? There's a whole committee to look after two athletes! Everyone was there….even Iraq and Afghanistan…even the poorest countries in the world were there….I'm so depressed.”
The flagbearer of Singapore made a mistake of dragging the country’s flag on the floor. Chronicles of SGnia writes:
“I couldn't say I am a patriotic Singaporean. In fact, I never was. But when I saw how my country flag is treated, I am disgusted. It swept on the ground of the “bird nest” stadium in Beijing in front of billions watching in the world.”
Adding to the controversy was the fact that the flagbearer was not born and raised in Singapore. DK is disappointed:
“I feel a bit disgrace when our national flag is being carried by a foreign talent during the Olympic opening ceremony. Why are we buying talents to bring an Olympic medal back?”
The Philippines too has sent foreign talents in the Olympics. Confluent Thoughts mentions this issue:
“We sent a little more than a dozen athletes most of whom perhaps were trained some place else, to the biggest sporting event in the world. I don’t know with you, but I’d say, that reflects the pathetic state of Philippine sports!”
Are Southeast Asian countries desperate to win a gold medal? Since the start of the Olympic Games more than a hundred years ago, Southeast Asian countries have only won 51 medals overall. Governments have been increasing the financial incentives for athletes who will bring home a gold medal.
Most bloggers in the region were impressed by China’s preparation for the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. Indonesian blogger Jenny's Journies sums up the reaction of bloggers: “It is beyond words!”
A Malaysian blogger is proud of China and Asia:
“I would put my praise on China for such an awesome, fantastic, bombastic, acrobatic, ‘out of this world’ opening, that I would have to rethink of any other nation that could ever beat the Beijing games in years to come. I am very much sure that there is a great sense of envy that China could build up such a spectacular show. I had the feeling of pride swimming in my heart, despite the host nation having little to none of connection to me. I guess, this is what they call ‘One Asia for the whole of Asia‘.”
“The opening ceremony was simply spectacular. China really took this opportunity to inform the world about itself in some subtle ways…The coming in of the athletes in the non conforming way of the usual alphabetical order. I believe that this shows that China is prepared not to heed any rules, but instead is ready to make its own rules (in fact, it already has) for the world to follow.”
Tan Geng Hui’s Homepage writes:
“This awesome opening ceremony, was simply mind blowing, they captured my heart and thoughts, from a sporting and world citizen perspective. The crowds were simply superb, the performances dazzling and spectacular, showcasing how the inventions and creations of China, helped to shape the world. It certainly lived up to its reputation and promise, to be the Best Olympics Opening Ceremony in history.”
IZ Reloaded praises and criticizes China:
“It's great to see a fellow Asian country putting up such a wonderful spectacle but as the Chinese spent millions to make sure their Olympics is a success, I can't help but think about the millions of people in Darfur who are suffering because of the Chinese continued sponsoring of the genocide there. China may have staged the greatest Olympic Opening Ceremony ever but they have to look at themselves for assisting in the death of hundreds of thousands of people thousand miles away.”
“We shouldn't import too much of the calculations of politics into the striving of honest sportsmen. Let them show off their sporting skills!”
How was the Olympic TV coverage in the region? VA to VN observes in Vietnam:
“The Vietnamese broadcaster didn't really say much about any of the countries until it got to the former Soviet Bloc – he was talking about Sergey Bubka when Ukraine was announced. I guess all the communist countries know each other.”
Andystorm is annoyed by too many advertisements. Since a state-owned network is broadcasting the Olympic Games in Indonesia, Java Milk hopes there will be less TV ads. First Draft from the Philippines has a complaint too:
“I've waited for some time for the Philippine delegation during the parade of participating countries. Unfortunately, when the Philippines’ time to show up came, it only merited about three seconds on TV.”
Regional leaders attended the opening ceremonies. Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, was seen taking some pictures at the stadium. Philippine President Gloria Arroyo and Cambodian King Sihamoni Norodom were also at the opening ceremonies. A blogger asks if Singapore leader MM Lee, whose face was very red during the program, was a bit drunk?