And you thought only the Chinese did it…
SYDNEY – Eight years after it hosted an Olympics that were famously hailed as the "best games ever," Sydney has had to confess that it faked one of the key musical performances at the opening ceremony in 2000.
The revelation came after it emerged that nine-year-old Lin Miaoke was just lip-synching when she "sang" a patriotic song before 91,000 people and a global television audience during the August 8 opening ceremony at the Beijing Games.
Orchestra bosses have admitted that the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (SSO) mimed its entire performance at the ceremony, and that some of the real music was in fact recorded by rival musicians in Melbourne.
"It was all pre-recorded and the MSO (Melbourne Symphony Orchestra) did record a minority of the music that was performed," SSO managing director Libby Christie told Australia’s Fairfax newspapers earlier this week.
"It’s correct that we were basically miming to a pre-recording," she said.
The respected orchestra gave the fake performance because Olympics organisers "wanted to leave nothing to chance" and a second orchestra was found to record the backing tape because of a "mountainous workload" in Sydney, Christie said.
The admission has columnists in Melbourne — which has a longstanding rivalry with glitzier Sydney — crowing over the fact that its musicians ghosted a crucial performance by their arch-rivals.
The head of the MSO confirmed the performance had been pre-recorded but defended the move, saying it was "purely a workload issue" and in no way reflected on the relative quality of either orchestra.
"It’s nothing to do with priorities or which orchestra is better. It was decided to split (the work) between the two orchestras," he said.
"It’s quite a normal practice and if the Olympics had been in Melbourne, the Sydney Symphony would have been involved — I’m sure of that."
Christie said the Sydney orchestra had very rarely mimed performances but had done so at the 2003 Rugby World Cup in Sydney, while the MSO said it had used a backing tape at the opening ceremony of the 2006 Commonwealth Games.
Beijing Olympic officials went on the defensive two weeks ago when it was revealed that pigtailed Lin Miaoke, who became a celebrity in China after her performance, had not actually done the singing.
It later emerged the real voice belonged to chubby seven-year-old Yang Peiyi, who was deemed not attractive enough to go on stage, and that the switch was ordered by a politburo member of China’s ruling Communist party.