It was a closely guarded secret that 9-year-old earthquake survivor Lin Hao would accompany Yao Ming in leading China’s Olympic delegation into the stadium at the opening ceremony. There were 32 children in Lin Hao’s primary school class in Yingxiu. Only ten of them survived. When Lin Hao escaped from the collapsed building, he carried an unconscious classmate out with him. He then went back and rescued a second child.
So it was an emotional and very photogenic moment when the boy appeared with Yao Ming. Unfortunately there was something not quite right with the flag in his hand.
That was one of a set of pictures Xinhua sent out on the wire late on Friday night. An hour and a half later, Xinhua sent it again, this time with a notice to all clients: “This photograph has been withdrawn. Please do not use.” Not everyone obeyed that request. Among those who ignored it was Xinhua’s own website.