The Olympics start tomorrow and I'm looking forward to finally being in a nearby time zone so I can watch many of the events on TV. FijiTV has even secured the rights and have stated their commitment to broadcast many of the games. That's great. On the Chinese side of things, I've been in absolute awe of what that country has built to prepare for these games. The newly designed facilities are truly incredible and amazing examples of architecture. I could stare at the "birds nest" all day.
Great controversy has dogged the build up to this year's Olympic summer games more than ever before, though, and that was to be expected. The crackdown on Tibet in March thrust China's human right's record back into the spotlight but in my opinion, the country shined when it came to their response to the massive Sichuan earthquake in May. I'm not referring to the government's reaction to the quake or even the cause of so much death (apparently, from shoddy construction). What I'm referring to is the way the Chinese people themselves responded.
No one seems to mobilise the way the Chinese can mobilise. Watching the sheer volume of people participate in rescue efforts was moving. A single, national voice seemed to cry out in unison and as an outsider, I was and still am, envious. China is an amazing country and regardless of their political leaders, I hope this Olympics goes off smoothly for everyone.
One of the more interesting controversies which began making buzz a few weeks ago was related to the Olympic torch lighting on the summit of Mount Everest in May. (via Strangepants) The issue at hand is whether the Chinese actually climbed the mountain and reached the peak. An article on a News.com.au blog site provides an overview of the controversy. There's a line in this post which refers to China's insistence that they did reach the summit and that anything pointing to the contrary was ridiculous. The author of the article, Jack Marx, penned this gem:
"To the Chinese, its seems, being caught cheating is nowhere near as embarassing as failure."
After six years I spent living in Asia, this explanation is entirely plausible if true.
In reality, I don't personally care if they took the torch to Everest's summit in a Humvee. If they did it as they're claiming, good for them but it's not going to make the games any more or less enjoyable for me. In the face of governments lying to people everywhere, is this really such a horrible fib? I suppose people might consider the magnitude of the deception unforgivable because it's a being fed to the entire world but really, I'd rather be misled about a bunch of people climbing a hill with a flame over a story about Iraq harboring weapons of mass destruction.
If anything, I suppose a lie like this is just bad karma when considering the event taking place should be all about sportsmanship and trust.
Either way, I find the claims interesting. The Chinese have been playing a much more aggressive and visible role in Fiji (and throughout the Pacific) during the past few years, too. They have expanded both their political influence and their money deep inside the country. From tourism initiatives to energy production, the Chinese appear to be in it for the long haul. It got me thinking...
Here's one of the pictures of the Chinese climbing team which has caused so much skepticism. One key argument is that there is almost a complete lack of any peaks in the background of the picture. Another one revolves around the fact that there's no ice on anyone's face. Check it out:
There's actually a lot of detail in this image. I found the highest resolution version I could find and dug a bit deeper. Here's the area I wanted to focus on.
Using a powerful desktop computer, I ran the image through a number of filters to try and break through the cloud cover. (This is quite easy to do with a Mac OS system, too. Windows users definitely can't do it.) After about four hours of filter passes, I ended up with the following image.
You can very clearly see the faint outline of something in the distance.
I was exhausted after staring at the screen for so long so I let the system continue to run and I went to sleep.
When I woke, the following image was on my screen:
Anyone who has ever spent time in Suva might begin to feel some familiarity when viewing this image. It's rare that controversy and conspiracy theories are proven wrong in the Fiji Islands but you read it here first. The Chinese climbing team did NOT scale Everest. Instead, they dressed up, hit some hill in Tamavua with a fog machine and were caught with Joske's Thumb in the background. The warm weather explains their lack of facial hair ice, too. It all fits.
Whether the Fijian government was aware of this taking place in the country is unknown as of yet. In my opinion, how could they not? Really.