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Olympics ignite humor in Beijing

Chinese soccer team eases tension in China

While Beijing’s scowling policemen have made headlines, the Olympic Games have prompted plenty of humor in the Chinese capital, especially online.

Most of it is directed at the Chinese soccer team, whose consistent failure has made them the butt of ribbing in the soccer-mad nation. One webizen described the team as being “as tragic as a eunuch in a brothel.”

The team certainly won’t be adding to China’s medal haul.

After losing to Brazil and Belgium, with the latter game including a terrible kick by Tan Wangsong in the crotch of a Belgian player, the national team finished the Games in sorry style.

Adjusting the words to the “Beijing Welcomes You” song, a new version goes “Come play with us, our goal posts are wide and always open.”

Another blogger jested: “Smoking will ruin your health. Watching Chinese soccer will ruin your life,” and “No matter how bad you play, you can build your confidence here in China.”

It almost makes you feel sorry for the team.

The Web postings include a spate of ironic comments about the coverage on China’s state broadcaster CCTV. One TV host compared U.S. gold-medal swimmer Michael Phelps to a bird in water. “What’s a bird supposed to do in water?” one netizen asked.

Another popular joke is based on the song “You and Me,” sung at the Opening Ceremony. If you say “you” and “me” in Chinese you get the words for “oil” and “rice,” two things that have become expensive in China this year as inflation hit bigtime.

There has also been lively reaction to a photo that shows members of the Spanish Olympic basketball team slanting their eyes to appear Chinese.

The team includes four NBA players — Jose Calderon of the Toronto Raptors, Pau Gasol of the Los Angeles Lakers, Juan Carlos Navarro of the Memphis Grizzlies and Rudy Fernandez of the Portland Trail Blazers.

The photo ran in a Spanish newspaper ad and has caused outrage among the Chinese diaspora, although the reaction in China has been surprisingly calm so far, with netizens seeing it as a silly joke.

Calderon apologized on Thursday, saying Spain was a multicultural country and that he had meant no harm, although he possibly added to the insult unintentionally by insisting that “some of my best friends are Chinese.”

But the final word has to go to the soccer fans. “Please dismiss the Chinese soccer team. Ask them to go and raise pigs instead.”

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