Friday, August 1, 2008
Beijing hires Mark Spitz to aid anti-spitting campaign
Olympic officials in Beijing, the site of this year's summer games, have hired former U.S. swimmer Mark Spitz to assist in its Anti-spitting campaign. The nine-time gold medal winner (1968 and 1972 games) is set to arrive in China on August 3 and has already taken part in marketing photos and ads.
With hordes of tourists and fans descending on China's capital for the two week event, government officials have been asking citizens to stop, or at least reduce, spitting--a common Chinese habit.
"We hired Mark to come in here and do a series of lectures on spitting and why it's not such a great habit. It just makes sense," said Jun Shan, Beijing's Olympic Committee vice president. "Given his last name he must be an expert."
Chinese officials fear that westerners visiting the city could be turned off by locals spitting and line cutting.
"I've never lectured before in my life, so I have a hunch that they hired me solely for my last name," said Spitz, who agreed that spitting can be a nasty habit. "For fifty grand and a free trip to Beijing I'll go around telling people that spitting is bad."
Posters and billboards are already strewn throughout the city picturing Spitz, arms folded, frowning at a blemish on the sidewalk. Another ad shows Spitz with a ready-to-spit Yao Ming and the swimmer's bobble finger moving back and forth to indicate unacceptable behavior.
Though resident's are curbing the habit, ten lucky Beijingers will be chosen to extinguish the Olympic flame, at the end of the games, by spitting.