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The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Friday, August 22, 2008

Time to investigate the IOC.

There have been calls, from all over the world, to investigate the age of Chinese gymnasts at the Olympics. At first the International Olympic Committee (IOC) indicated that it would not investigate for it was satisfied by the passports it had seen. The clamour continued, the world was not happy. Finally, today, the IOC announced that it would investigate the issue.

That sounded just fine to me. At last, they would look into the matter. At last, something would be done. At last, the undoubtable truth would be uncovered. Imagine, then, my surprise (and yours, perhaps) when I learnt that, only a few hours after announcing the investigation, that it had been concluded - in favour of the Chinese: all was pronounced well and the girls were as old as stated. The reason given was strange: there was no "proof" that they were underage.

What, exactly, I wonder does "proof" mean? What is the level of evidence the IOC would accept - for there is certainly abundant evidence that these girls are underage. Firstly, there is their development - or lack of it - for even by Asian standards these girls look like kids. They don't even look as old as the age that is suspected of them. If I had been told that they were in primary school, I would believe it. Then there is the little matter of Chinese governmental websites having stated, in the past, that the girls were considerably younger than they would have had to have been, to now be 16. Last year, Xinhua, the Chinese government news agency, wrote of He Kexin as being 13 years old. In May, the China Daily, wrote of her being 14. Suddenly, she has undergone rapid ageing, living two years in just three months. Another magic feat is that documents have come into existence - such as a passport - that have a new opinion of her age.

Well a document is just a piece of paper with lies written on it - if that is what someone wants it to be. It is very easy to falsify a passport - all it needs is one single dishonest official or one single dishonest government. That is all. A piece of paper with the age 16 on it says nothing of the truth at all.

What would tell the truth is a bit of a background check on the girls. Where did they go to school? What do the teachers and students of that school say about the age of the girls? What do townspeople in their respective home towns say? Where are the yearbooks and dated photographs of the girls in particular school years? A life leaves traces of its passing. There will be an abundance of physical evidence in the world as to the true age of these girls. Unless, of course, there is a massive cover-up underway with the erasure of these girls' entire pasts. That, of course, is possible given China's revealed nature and strong interest in maintaining this apparent lie in the face of the world.

It would not be difficult to find all this information. Simply hiring a private detective agency in China would probably do the trick in a day or two. However, it is not really necessary to do that - for the Chinese government has told us the true ages of these girls on multiple occasions at earlier stages in their careers, on public websites. Caches of these now strangely missing webpages prove that three girls, at least, in the Chinese gymnastic team are underage, ACCORDING TO THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT ITSELF, in the past.

Investigators from various parts of the world have unearthed diverse evidence stating that these girls are underage. The IOC rules state that no-one under 16 can participate in an Olympics gymnastic competition. Anyone who is under 16 is ineligible for competition - and for the winning of medals. Gymnasts are supposed to take these rules seriously - and are stripped of their medals if found out. However, the IOC has chosen, in the case of the Chinese gymnasts, not to take its own rules seriously. The question is: why?

The IOC is ignoring much evidence that the athletes are underage. It prefers to accept that China, great wonderful honest China, would not lie to it. It is accepting the verbal declaration that the passports and related documents of these athletes state. It is ignoring the verbal declaration of Xinhua, (the Chinese version of Reuters) and various other Chinese organs, as being "unproven". So what makes one verbal declaration trustworthy and another not? Why is one Chinese government source trusted (the passport office) and another Chinese government source (Xinhua) not trusted? It seems, to an outsider, that it all comes down to money. The IOC makes money out of the Beijing Olympics. No doubt it makes a whole lot of money. That money pays their no doubt Olympic sized salaries. They are not going to investigate the behaviour of the source of that money. So, they choose blindness over sight, deafness over hearing and ignore the evidence that the rest of the world can see and hear so clearly.

It is time, therefore, not to just ask the IOC to investigate the age of these questionable athletes, but to ask that the IOC ITSELF BE INVESTIGATED. Is there wrongdoing and collusion at the IOC? Are the IOC truly aware that the gymnasts are underage, but choose to ignore the issue? Why won't the IOC do the simplest of things to verify the ages of these children, themselves? The IOC has great resources and influence. It would not be difficult for them to find concrete sources other than the assurances of their hosts - after all, the rest of the world has had no trouble doing so. The funny thing is that the age verification sources outside of the official ones, all state that these girls are underage. Perhaps that is why the IOC chooses not to look at them: it doesn't want to face up to the situation.

The IOC is being foolish. It fears to embarrass China. It seems to lack the courage to face China. That is the charitable interpretation. The less charitable interpretation is that the IOC, itself, is directly involved in covering this matter up, by giving its assurances that all is OK, when much evidence says that it is not.

The IOC has put its long-term reputation on the line over this. People have long memories. They will not easily forget the multiple lies and deceits that China has brazenly told the world these past couple of weeks. The world will continue to suspect the Chinese gymnasts of being underage. Furthermore, and to the detriment of the IOC, the world will remember how the IOC responded. The reputation of the IOC could be forever lessened by this lack of action on their part. The IOC risks a lot more than embarrassing China. The IOC risks tarnishing the Olympics, itself. For the IOC is showing, quite clearly, that it doesn't care all that much about cheating, at the Olympics, it doesn't care about fairness, it doesn't care about honesty. It doesn't actually care about the Olympic spirit at all. All the IOC cares about is the IOC.

An external body should be appointed, with no connection to the IOC, to investigate two things: the age of the Chinese gymnasts through thorough background checking - and whether the IOC is colluding, in any way, with covering up their ages.

Should it be proven that the gymnasts are underage, the entire upper management of the IOC should go, for not investigating it, thoroughly. Should it be proven that they were in collusion over the matter, then some form of further punishment should be put in place.

The Olympics represent the best of the human spirit. Today, however, they appear to be run by people who do not share in that spirit. It is time to take a good, long look at the IOC, and all its key players. In fact, this is more important than even the age of the athletes that they are so keen not to question.

Is it time to say goodbye to Jacques Rogge? (Interesting name, that...)

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 11:35 PM 

3 Comments:

Blogger Miao said...

This is utterly disgraceful. Unfortunately I don't think any furthur action will be taken insofar as there is no furore within the international community. There is strength in numbers, and if there are only a few people who voice their dissatisfaction, chances are that they are just going to be conveniently ignored. Truly professional and dedicated athletes would respect their own sport as a form of art that is not to be insulted - but China has degraded the game by cheating without integrity; there is no longer any beauty in the sport. The Olympics has become a battlefield where unscrupulous means are employed to ensure victory at all costs. The IOC has a lot to explain to gymnasts from other countries who have suffered due to such injustice.

I just hope that the Singaporean government will not be guilty of such duplicity when it hosts the inaugural Youth Olympics in 2010.

P.S. This is unrelated to your entry, but I just have to say that I am really appalled by the behaviour of the Chinese - many of them are hurling insults at Liu Xiang for quitting the competition even though it is really not his fault that he is afflicted with such a serious injury (it is really infuriating that they worshipped him when he brought glory, but condemn him now that he is down), and they often erupt into applause and cheers at the most inapproporiate moments, sometimes even shouting happily when foreign athletes make mistakes when playing against Chinese representatives. Their very own tennis star Zheng Jie is courageous enough to criticize them for their lack of etiquette - she commented that cheering loudly when your country's opponents make mistakes is extremely ungracious and impolite, and would potentially affect the athletes' performance. I just hope that they heed her advice and cultivate some social grace.

12:48 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hi Miao,

I was unaware that the Chinese had such poor manners and sportsmanship, when watching an event. It seems to indicate that the whole country lacks an ethical grounding.

So what do we have here: cheaters and jeerers...great. I would like to see a mature, honest, responsible, fair China. I fear that I may have to wait quite a while.

Yes. I hope that the 2010 Youth Olympics does not echo the Beijing event in any way. Let us hope that Singapore is wise enough to be completely straightforward: it is vital for how they will be perceived around the world.

Best wishes.

7:34 AM  
Anonymous lau min-tsek said...

I remember a few years back the North Koreans did the same with one of their female gymnasts. She apparantly have different declared age in different competitions.

Can't remember the name, though......

9:17 PM  

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