China's Opening Ceremonies secret scooped by Korean journalist
The Chinese Government is furious after a video featuring a secret Olympic Games Opening Ceremonies dress rehearsal was leaked to the world. The video was filmed by a Korean television journalist who was able to walk through security unaccosted as the confidential ceremony was taking place. As seen by this video, the ceremonies promise to be a remarkable event (Watch the Video at www.beijing2008.net.au).
To the organisers, the opening ceremony is the single most important element of these Games, mixing an almost religious element of ritual with a demonstration of national culture that is supposed to restore China to its historic role as one of the world's leading civilisations.
The choice of director - Zhang Yimou, one of the country's best known film directors - has proved controversial. His films are often accused of pandering to the mass market and Western tastes at the expense of tradition, while the eight-minute segment he provided for the closing ceremony in Athens 2004 was criticised as tacky and over-sexualised.
However, determined to stun the world, organisers have imposed a complete black-out on images of the rehearsals. Those allowed in are searched, and made to sign contracts saying they will not describe the contents to anyone. Employees are reputed to have been threatened with jail sentences of up to seven years if they breach confidentiality.
"I totally have to keep what I see secret," said a Games volunteers who had won a lottery that enabled him to sit in on the third rehearsal underway last night. "I was so lucky - I was the only one of my groups of volunteers to come out of the draw."
Nevertheless, an SBS Korea employee was able to walk down from the international broadcasting centre and make his way into the stadium with a video camera.