Olympic Artists Angry

From Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten:

The Kung Fu pupils in the opening ceremony of the Olympics have spent the last year cooped up in a military camp outside Beijing. Conditions have been bad. “They weren’t even given enough food,” says their trainer. This news adds to the criticism of the Beijing Organizing Committee.

… Many of the martial arts performers feel abused and ignored by the Olympic organizers. For the last year, they have been housed 50 to a room, more than 70 kilometres from the ‘Bird’s Nest’ National arena. This is where they have slept, eaten and spent all their time.

… Another pupil describes his disappointment as he arrived in Beijing last year. “We were proud at being chosen to take part. We all had great dreams about what we were going to do, what we were going to see and what big stars we would become, but all we’ve seen is the inside of this military camp. The only thing we dream of now is going home,” he says.

Conditions have been so bad that their trainer, Kung Fu master Liu Haike, has sent a series of complaints to the Olympic organizers. The complaints did have some effect.

“In the end, the pupils got enough to eat, even if the diet was extremely monotonous,” he says to daily newspaper Aftenposten.

Liu describes pressure from the organizers as extreme. Everything had to be perfect. As result the performers had to practice up to 16 hours a day. “The test performance of the opening ceremony was worst of all. The pupils had to remain in the stadium for 51 hours. They were hardly fed. There was nowhere to sleep. Some managed to sleep on the seats, but they didn’t get more than a couple of hours at most,” says Liu.

He adds that several of the pupils got heatstroke, but their physical training meant that they got better again relatively quickly. Liu says that he felt very sorry for his pupils and the way that they were treated.

“But the organizers have promised them an Olympic certificate thanking them for their effort. They will not receive pay. Nevertheless I think that the majority will think that it was good to do what they did for the Olympics and their country,” says Liu.

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