And, in the “we couldn’t make this stuff up if we tried” category, BOCOG, the Beijing Olympic organizing committee, outdoes itself again. The top story in today’s Shanghai Daily is headlined “‘Go China’ banners banned for Olympics.” That might be eye-catching, but for our money, the real news is what else has been banned:
“The rules forbid banners and flags larger than two meters by one meter. Also banned are the flags of non-participating countries, flash photography, drunkenness, nudity, gambling, sit-ins, demonstrations, guns, ammunition, crossbows, daggers and goods thought to be flammable, caustic or radioactive.”
Now, there’s nothing in there that’s terribly surprising. The banning of flags of non-participating countries is presumably aimed at keeping Taiwanese flags out of stadiums, since Taiwan of course attends the games as “Chinese Taipei,” not “Taiwan” or (heaven forbid) “Republic of China” (by the way, Shanghaiist recently linked to an AP article discussing what exactly Taiwan will be called). There’s probably something in there, too, about keeping flags of the Holy See away, to avoid drawing unwanted attention to China’s off-again, off-again relationship with the Vatican.
But crossbows? Does that mean regular bows and arrows are all right? Wait! It gets better:
“The banned list also includes soft drink containers, musical instruments, whistles, long umbrellas, cigarette lighters, radios, glass cups, skateboards, roller skates, bats, unauthorized walkie-talkies, laser pointers and loudspeakers … Small quantities of lip gloss and sunscreen will be allowed, as will fountain pens.”
As fashion-conscious print media Luddites, we’re heartened to hear that we’ll be able to apply lip gloss while composing Olympic blog posts in longhand with our fountain pens. Still, the ban on long umbrellas does put a crimp in our capitalist roader style.