Chinese try "contraception" to avoid Olympics

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese people tiring of Olympic overkill are turning to slang, and “contraception”, to make a point about the headaches of next month’s Games.

“Bi-yun”, means contraception, or avoiding pregnancy, in Mandarin Chinese, but in a play on words the same pronunciation is now used to mean avoiding the Olympics, as “Ao-yun” means the Olympic Games.

China’s latest slang, spreading fast by the Internet and word of mouth, suggests that at least some citizens are weary of the security checks, work and leisure disruptions and unrelenting official attention on the sports event, which starts on August 8.

But a survey of 3,212 Chinese people in March and April found 96 percent believed the Beijing Games will be a success, the Pew Research Center said in a study released this week.

Seventy-nine percent said the Games were personally important to them, the Washington D.C. public opinion institute found, while 34 percent thought the country was paying too much attention to the Games.

Written Chinese uses many thousands of different characters, but in the spoken language there are countless overlapping pronunciations, creating fertile ground for ribald word games.

“‘Contraception’ refers to avoiding the Olympic Games or leaving Beijing for elsewhere,” one Internet gloss of the phrase explains. “‘Becoming pregnant’ (shouyun) refers to traveling to Beijing to watch the Olympic Games or experience the excitement.”

Some sly locals say they are hoping to escape headaches by signing up with tour agencies for “avoiding Olympics packages” (biyuntao), a phrase that also sounds like “condom.”

Editing by David Fox