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Thursday, 24 April 2008

Huge turn out for Under 23 World Cup torch relay

2 of 12,000


Over 12,000 Chinese fans turned out to support the Under 23 World Cup Torch Run in Canberra today.

From a football point of view, a great turnout. From a social perspective a stunning display of aggressive, passionate nationalism by the Chinese in Australia. Simply mindblowing.

The young Chinese were simply united in their voice and desire to shout down any Tibetan protestor. A sign of the future?

Their desire to voice their support for China over Tibet in a foreign country was, to me, slightly disturbing, certainly shocking.
Back to the football,

and of course to celebrate the football Under 23 World Cup torch run, it was fitting that small sided games were played while the torch was being run on the grass around Parliament House.


And also nice to see people from other sports like swimming, archery and athletics joining with their football friends. Ian Thorpe, Matt Walsh and even Kevin Gosper and his daughter all gave the support to Danny Vukovic and the Olyroos.


Locals were shocked by the numbers of young Chinese students walking the streets of the sedate national capital carrying flags.

I was shocked. I've been to some big football games, but this display was amazing. Watching the young Chinese walk the streets of Canberra after the Torch run, all still carrying their flags in one and two's as they rode bikes or headed off to elsewhere, seemed eerie in Canberra.

The passion for their country to intimidate the Tibetan protestors was simply stunning.

It felt strange to see buses dropping load after load of students into the National Capital early this morning.

The War Memorial was one dropping point.

"Out of the fog, Chinese flags could be seen walking down Anzac Parade towards the ceremony," said one observer.

Although Australians did turnout clearly without the Chinese supporters the torch didn't seem to mean too much to the Canberrans despite local media hype, and there was plenty.

Over 50 buses came from Melbourne alone.

"I was protesting peacefully with Tibetan supporters, when a large number of Chinese surrounded us. They were very aggressive and told us, 'to go back to Tibet,' which we would if we felt safe," said a caller to the ABC.

At another point one Tibetan supporter was surrounded by 200 hundred Chinese supporters.

Apart from a reported 8 arrests, a huge amount of money spent by someone to organise Chinese student travel, flags, and very new banners, not to mention the very shiny new interstate cars in Canberra, things were reasonably peaceful.

And it made me think:

How many Chinese will turn up for the World Cup Qualifier in Sydney in June? Better get your ticket and your colours now!


2 comments:

Stamarocks said...

Eamonn,

I agree whole heartedly about the weirdness surrounding the Olympic torch really. I found it disturbing that the Olympic torch relay held in Canberra Australia was used as a base for a Chinese propaganda message. All those Chinese protesters (supporters) where organized by the Chinese embassy to portray a positive image to the world about the Beijing Olympics. I feel like Australia was used in some way.
Keep up the good work.

Stama

Eamonn said...

Stamarocks

it felt odd very odd. Friends have talked about taking their kids and being shocked by the attitude of the Chinese, the men carrying walkie talkies to move the crowd, to place the crowd. The dishing out of flags.

It was a strange and not a particularly nice experience, and every Australian there would have been left with a nasty taste about the Chinese I'm afraid.

To be so aggressive in another country, poor from

And it was nothing about the Olympcs for the Chinese students. Not an Olympic flag in sight.

If these are the educated Chinese god help Tibet, god help the world!