> Opinion
Legacy needs protection
By Fang Zhou (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-08-05 07:53

The magnificence of the Beijing Olympic Games is fresh in people's minds even after a year. The National Stadium (or Bird's Nest) and the National Aquatics Center (or Water Cube) have become cultural and tourism landmarks.

But some unscrupulous people have been using the Beijing Olympic brand to make a fast buck or to grab attention. For example, a wholesale market just outside Beijing has been made to look like the Water Cube and villagers in a southern province have used bamboos to build a smaller version of the Bird's Nest.

The random copying of Olympic structures and emblems has sparked a debate among members of the Beijing municipal committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) about whether the central government should devise an authoritative authentication and evaluation system to protect the Beijing Olympic brand.

Lian Yuming, a member of CPPCC's Beijing committee and president of the Municipal International Institute for Urban Development, says: "Cultural elements of the Beijing Olympics, including its stadiums, should be allowed to be used if such an act does not violate Olympic rules and infringe upon intellectual property rights (IPR) Imitations of Olympic elements should be welcome if they are only to encourage people to take part in social events or entertainment."

But commercial activities that take advantage of the Olympic brand, including piracy of its tangible and intangible assets, should be subjected to strict regulations.

"At the core of the protection of the Beijing Olympic heritage is the preservation of its integrity and authenticity. And this can be done by framing a set of rules that cover all the tangible and intangible assets of the Games in China," Lian said at a CPPCC Beijing municipal committee meeting in mid June.

Scholars and experts corroborate him. "The Beijing Olympic mascots, medals, torch, emblems and motifs are part of the Games' heritage The Beijing Olympics may be over but the value of these articles will never diminish," said Wang Min, director of the Center of Olympic Culture Studies under the China Academy of Art. "All the ideas for the Olympic emblems and designs should be studied and popularized."

But not enough efforts have been made toward that end because it is a tough and complicated task.

Apart from the rich material heritage such as the unique building designs and emblems, the enormous spiritual heritage embodied in the Beijing Games - the concept of "green, hi-tech and people's Games" - is also China's great contribution to global culture.

"The collection and preservation of Olympic emblems and other articles and their study should be made into a topic of research not only in China, but also across the world," said Jin Yuanpu, executive director of the Center of People's Olympics Studies under the Renmin University of China. "In this regard, the work we have done, however, is not enough."

"The participation of people from across China and the rest of the world made the Beijing Olympics a huge success. But after the end of the Games, some of its articles have been auctioned and structures torn down. This has harmed the Olympic heritage."

Jin says the country has not been able to fully preserve and popularize the Games' heritage. "We should devise a long-term mechanism to carry forward the invaluable legacy of the Beijing Olympics."

"The Bird's Nest, the Water Cube and other unique Olympic symbols and ideas are the result of the efforts of the people of China and the rest of the world," says Wi Jizhong, president of Beijing Olympics Economy Research Association and senior consultant with the Beijing Organizing Committee of the Games. "They should be a driving force for the country to become a creative nation." "The importance of the spiritual heritage of the Games such as environmental protection and volunteerism will never diminish," Wi says.

(China Daily 08/05/2009 page9)