Chinese dancer paralyzed during Opening Ceremony rehearsal

Nick Friedell

The Opening Ceremony was celebrated around the world as being one of the most spectacular events in recent memory. Like millions of others, I watched in awe and wondered how the performers were able to pull off such detailed choregraphy without getting hurt. It turns out though that the Opening Ceremony did produce one tragic injury that we are now aware of.

The Telegraph is reporting that Liu Yan, a dancer who was part of the Silk Road performance, fell during a rehearsal and has been paralyzed. The most tragic part of this story is that due to the tight security surrounding the Olympic Games, she was unable to be treated immediately.

Sources inside the stadium told The Telegraph that Liu was left lying in agony on the set for more than 50 minutes before she was attended by paramedics because of the strict security cordon which had been thrown around the rehearsals.

The Beijing Olympic Committee initally stated Liu had broken her leg and was recovering well from the injury. Recently though, the depth of her injury has come to light. Director Zhang Yimou, who has recieved worldwide acclaim for Friday night's Opening Ceremony, visited her in the hospital according to this report.

"You're the deepest pain in my heart," Zhang was reported as saying. "If I could see you stand on your feet again, it would make me much more excited and happier than any praise I've received."

This story will serve as another dent to China's public image, especially considering the warnings the Chinese government recieved about performers safety.

The Telegraph has learned from a separate source that the Chinese authorities had been given warnings about the need for improved safety measures at rehearsals but that these were disregarded.

Once again, the country has shown its inabilty to be honest about the events surrounding the Opening Ceremony. For her part though, Liu is not blaming the director or her country for anything that has happened to her.

"You guys [Zhang and his co-directors] have created a miracle for the world and I will do the same for all you three," she said from her hospital bed.

In my mind the cover-up portion of this story is secondary, it doesn't seem that surprising considering the other stories that have come out this week. The surprising part of this story is Liu's attitude even in the face of such a tragedy.

Photo via Telegraph