Beijing Cheer: on cue - or else

BEIJING, June 6, 2008 (AFP) - Beijing Olympic organisers have unveiled a new four-part cheering routine for Chinese sports fans attending the August Games here, state media reported Friday.

The routine involves clapping twice, giving the thumbs up, clapping twice again, then punching the air with clenched fists, accompanied by chants of Go Olympics!'' and Go China!’’, the Beijing News said.

The government plans to roll out a nationwide propaganda campaign through TV, radio and newspapers to promote the new routine in the runup to the August 8-24 Games, according to the report.

The cheer routine was devised by the government and the Beijing Olympic organising committee (BOCOG) to help spectators cheer in a smooth, civilized manner, the official Xinhua news agency said.

It said BOCOG had hired 30 cheering squads at Olympic ventures to show spectators how the gestures were done.

The Ministry of Education is also arranging special training sessions in schools for the 800,000 students who are expected to attend the Games, it added.

The Chinese government has emphasised a drive to improve the ``civilization’’ of Beijing residents ahead of the Games, discouraging spitting, littering and queue jumping and other bad habits.

Sports fans have also been told to behave, dropping bad language and booing that is common at sports venues here.

Last month Chinese fans were criticised for bad behaviour at the China Open athletics competition, a dress rehearsal for the Games at the main Olympic Stadium.

Some 45,000 fans turned up but left almost en masse as soon as China’s Liu Xiang, the world and Olympic champion, had competed, raising fears that stadiums would be empty during the Games unless home crowd favourites were involved.

Li Ning, president of the Beijing Etiquette Institute, told the Beijing News that the new cheering routine was in line with international standards while expressing unique characteristics of Chinese culture.

BOCOG officials were not able to confirm the new cheer when contacted by AFP on Friday.