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Leaked Opening Ceremony footage irks Beijing
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A Beijing Olympics official said Thursday he was "disappointed" that a South Korean TV station had broadcast some footage of a dress rehearsal of the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony.

"We are disappointed they did that, but the fragments cannot give the audience a full picture of the opening ceremony," said Sun Weide, a media official with the organizing committee of the Beijing Games.

"Let's wait for the wonderful performances when the Games open on Aug. 8," he said at a press conference.

The three-and-a-half-hour opening ceremony masterminded by award-winning film director Zhang Yimou has been kept in top secrecy. But the SBS TV station reportedly aired fragments of a video of the rehearsal, including scenes depicting the past and future of Chinese culture and the unrolling of a huge scroll from which rises a carpet-like object.

"We're still verifying the matter," Sun said in response to an Australian journalist's question on whether the South Korean journalists involved would be penalized.

According to sources with the International Olympic Committee, photographers who take any still images of the dress rehearsals face legal action and withdrawal of accreditation for the Games if they leak the secret.

Zhang Yimou's team of elite artists have made three years of preparations for the opening show, which is expected by the Chinese to show  the essence of China's rich culture, concept and vision to the world.

Chinese Internet users condemn SBS

Chinese Internet users are infuriated by footage showing a secret dress rehearsal of the Beijing Olympics' opening ceremony.

A video clip circulated on the Internet of the South Korean television SBS news program aired on Tuesday, the 10-day countdown to the Games. It showed a just over one minute of footage for next week's ceremony. These included scenes of the unrolling of a carpet-like massive artwork, a group of children holding the Chinese flag and thousands of performers beating drums under flashing laser lights at the National Stadium, better known as the "Bird's Nest."

Thousands of Chinese Internet users made angry comments about the clip, denouncing the TV station's lack of ethics.

"Hundreds of international media come to Beijing to report on the Olympic Games, but the South Korean TV station is the only one who has behaved so unethically," one comment said.

Some Internet users suggested canceling the reporting rights of SBS; others suggested a boycott of Korean products.

A survey on Chinese website sina.com revealed more than 64 percent strongly condemned such behavior and more than 45 percent thought such an act had severely violated the journalistic code of ethics.

The opening ceremony on Aug. 8 has been kept a closely-guarded secret. According to organizers, more than 10,000 performers have been working on the blockbuster 50-minute show for three years. It is directed by world-renowned Chinese director Zhang Yimou. All involved have been sworn to secrecy, and little has been disclosed about the detailed contents of the program. It is known the ceremony will feature a tribute to the May 12 earthquake victims in southwest China.

Meanwhile, some Internet users questioned the security at the Bird's Nest before the rehearsal.

"The quality of the footage shows that it was not taken secretly. How did they sneak the cameras into the venue and shoot the video without any interference?" one Netizen questioned.

A source who went to the July 15 rehearsal said there were no additional checks on cameras. "There was no warnings against video recording or photography before the rehearsal." But as the rehearsal unfolded, security guards started stopping people in the front row taking pictures.

The opening ceremony rehearsal opened to the public on July 30. About 70,000 people watched the rehearsal. "We were went through a security check and were warned against photography and video recording before the rehearsal began," said another source. "But I could still see some people taking photos with their cellphones or flash cameras. The security was not as tight as I thought."

According to the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) two more rehearsals on Aug. 2 and Aug. 5 will be open to ticket holders.

(Xinhua News Agency July 31, 2008)

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