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Carrying a Torch

The Beijing Olympic Torch Relay in the British and Chinese Media


Mei Yang

The Olympic torch relay held before the 2008 Games was the moment when East met West on the media stage. This book analyses the torch relay and its representation, offering a discursive construction of Olympic ideology by and through the media in both East and West. The author argues that the discourse used by the media in different social contexts reflected the diversity of ideologies and cultural values with which the Olympic flame was imbued.
A corpus-based Discourse-Historical Approach in Critical Discourse Analysis (DHA-CDA) is applied to media discourse in the United Kingdom and in China to examine the complexity, contradiction and conflicts in linguistic interpretations of Olympic ideology. Corpora drawn from the China Daily, BBC News and The Guardian are described, interpreted in their linguistic contexts, and then explained in terms of the broader historical and socio-political contexts surrounding the dynamic life of the Olympic torch relay. This unique study sheds light on the significance of the Olympic Games for East-West media discourse and analysis.
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Chapter 2: Olympic Torch Relay and China and Britain in modern Olympic history



In the statement officially endorsed by the IOC, the Olympics manifest their importance in an array of symbolic practices from official emblems and statements to philosophies that represent the ideals of the Olympic Games (IOC 2011). The torch and relay were important elements of the cultural festivals surrounding the Olympic Games of ancient Greece. Historians suggest the flame was lit in a temple erected by the ancient Greeks to honour Hera, the powerful queen of the mythological gods (Guttmann 2002: 2). The modern Olympic torch is intended to symbolize connection through time and space and is a symbol of the continuity between antiquity and the modern Games (ibid). Therefore, Olympia is selected as the site for the Torch Relay lighting ceremony, symbolizing this close link and the purity of the Olympic flame. It is carried from Olympia across Greece to Athens, and in a ceremony at the Panathenian Stadium, the flame is handed over to the host committee for the Games, signalling the beginning of a new Olympiad.

The flame of modern Olympic torch was lit in this stadium for the first time at the Amsterdam 1928 Olympic Games, and again at the Los Angeles 1932 Olympic Games. But the first time the flame was lit at Olympia and conveyed by relay was at the Berlin 1936 Olympic Games, which is regarded as the first modern-day Olympic Torch Relay to be based on the ancient ceremonies. In these rituals, the Olympic flame is an...

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