The Chinese Communist regime repressed news of a tragic fall that left the lead dancer for the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympic Games paralyzed from the waist down.
Dancer Ms. Liu Yan was seriously injured during a rehearsal for the opening ceremonies on July 27. Anger swelled in Chinese internet forums after news of the accident—not posted until August 6—was hurriedly removed by censors.
Pressed by reporters at a news conference in Beijing the day after the opening ceremonies, director Zhang Yimou admitted a dancer had been injured but did not name Ms. Liu. On August 11, the dancer’s devastating injury was confirmed by Mainland Chinese media, and photos of the hospitalized dancer appeared online.
Ms. Liu, 26, fell more than 3 m when she leapt to a moving platform controlled by People’s Liberation Army soldiers, according to accounts of the incident published Monday in the Yangzi Evening News and online. The platform moved before she could plant her feet, web postings say, and Ms. Liu fell to the ground, landing on her back.
Ms. Liu was to be the lone solo dancer in the opening ceremonies, the Shanghai Daily confirmed on Wednesday, Aug. 13. The ceremonies included 14,000 dancers, 9,000 of them PLA soldiers.
The Shanghai Daily quoted doctors at the No. 206 People’s Liberation Army Hospital in Beijing who said the young woman would likely spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair and would rely on others for care. It offered no explanation for why the news had been held until two-and-a-half weeks after the accident.
Incensed bloggers circulated reports that it took over an hour for paramedics to arrive and take Ms. Yan to the hospital, where doctors reportedly operated on her for six hours.
According to the Hong Kong-based Wenhui News, Liu Yan was born in Inner Mongolia in 1982. She graduated from the Beijing Dance Academy and was a celebrated dancer, winning top honours in a 2004 national competition.
Her parents—a government cadre and medical worker—were reportedly devastated by the news and rushed to Beijing from Huhehaote City, the capital of Inner Mongolia.
When organizers of the opening ceremonies did finally come forward to admit the accident, deputy director Zhang Jigang had warm words for the fallen dancer.
"We will keep your name on the list of performers for the opening ceremony forever," he was quoted as saying.