World Wowed by Opening Ceremony in Beijing
To be a host in Chinese culture is to ensure that everyone's cup is full. So there was good reason to expect a party to remember on the opening night of the Olympics - and so it was, and more. A ceremony that thrilled and moved us ...
"An eight became a perfect 10 in Beijing tonight", the website of the Sydney Morning Herald declared. "The world may never witness a ceremony of the magnitude and ingenuity as that which opens the 2008 Olympics." "Gr8" said the Sun in the UK.
Fireworks burst forth, one batch per second, from Tian'AnMen Square in central Beijing northwards the six miles to the Birds' Nest along the ancient, central north-south axis, designed to evoke 'footprints of history'. The bird's eye view of the city leading to the Birds' Nest was spectacular.
No other nation in the world has the depth of history and culture as China, and some of those 5,000 years were brought to life by a talented cast of thousands, directed by the acclaimed filmmaker Zhang Yimou, who created a visual feast of color, and bold yet restrained vignettes, seamlessly flowing and faultlessly realised. Inspired, original and confident.
The ceremony opened with evocative percussion by 2,008 fou drummers, and the chanting of a famous passage from the sayings of Confucius: "Welcome, friends from afar. How happy we are."
Flying acrobats and a single female dancer with ribbon, raised by a small army, recalled the grottos of Dunhuang, painted in the Wei and Tang dynasties when camels and caravans plied the Silk Road. Many view the Tang dynasty as the golden age of China, when it was both wealthy and open to the world, a China that is echoed today.
Blue-robed oarsman enacted seafarers travelling between China and South-East Asia. Their oars became sails, painted with the “treasure ships” of the eunuch admiral Zheng He, who reached Africa during the Ming Dynasty.
Undulating blocks symbolised the printing blocks of ancient China, which invented moveable type, ink and paper.
Constantly changing landscape paintings and scenes of court life featured on a giant scroll that unfurled on the stadium floor, while musicians performed traditional airs.
Most of the 10,000 athletes entered the stadium to Children dressed in the traditional costumes of China's 56 ethnic groups carried the Olympic flag into the stadium and sang the national anthem as the Chinese flag was raised.
The organizers paid special tribute to the victims of the May earthquake in Sichuan province, which killed 70,000 people. Lin Hao, a 9-year-old boy who, as class monitor, sang songs with his classmates to keep morale up and who saved two classmates from the rubble and who then walked with his sisters more than seven miles to safety, escorted flag-bearer Yao Ming at the head of the Chinese Olympic team.
In the thirty years since the late Deng Xiao Ping started the opening of China, 400 million people have been lifted from poverty. China has, in that short time, come a long long way.
'China' means the 'middle kingdom' or country at the center. Certainly on this night, it was center-stage. A little bit of magic - made in China.
World thrilled by Beijing 2008
As the superb Beijing 2008 Olympics enters its second week, all the Olympic venues have drawn unanimous admiration from athletes and sports fans worldwide. The organisation and TV feeds have also been absoluetly superb.
With Beijing's fresh air, blue skies and marvellous food, world records have been tumbling across the board. Taken together, this has made Beijing 2008 a landmark Olympics.
Wonderful Closing Ceremony
Visually stunning and ended with lovely musical numbers, the teardrop-like, distant firework that followed the extinguishing of the Olympic flame was a master touch. The final songs, beautiful and joyful, showed that the spirit of Harmony will live on in the hearts of all who dream the dream ...
For dreams we travel
Thousands of miles
To be together
And share our joy
You and me
The latest news about Beijing, China and Beijing's preparations for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
The 'Birds Nest' Olympic Stadium, as seen from the Chinese Nationalities Ethnic Culture Park (August 2007).
The 'Bird's Nest' Olympic National Stadium has a new website
If you haven't seen these yet, take a look and feel the Olympic spirit, and the warmth and charm of Beijing and its people. These videos, hosted by the Beijing 2008 Olympics website, will open directly in your media player.
The Olympic Torch is on the final leg of its journey through China - in Beijing.
Seven years on from Beijing winning the right to be Olympics host, the truly 'People's Olympics' is here, with an unprecedented involvement by the people, in Beijing and all China, and a truly euphoric feeling of pride in a country where people, rich and poor, city dweller and farmer, have pulled together and built a country that is worthy of that pride. People the world over can learn from China and its people just as much as the chinese are keen to learn from others.
Just as every two people are different, the nations of the world may have their different ways, but we all yearn for understanding, respect and cooperation. That is the meaning of 'One World, One Dream' - and the Olympic Spirit.
Report and Photos
Beijing During the Olympics
An excellent large photo gallery hosted by the China Daily
Flower-based Displays in Beijing Parks
These run until 20th September (Photos)
|Beihai Park||Chinese Calligraphy|
|Beijing Botanical Garden||China and the World's Gardening Culture|
|Beijing Zoo||Animals of the Lunar Year and Rare Animals|
|Fragrant Hills Park||China's Health Promoting Culture|
|Jingshan Park||China's Porcelain Arts|
|Summer Palace||The Auspicious Culture of China|
|Taoranting Park||Ancient Chinese Poetry|
|Temple of Heaven||Chinese Traditional Ceremonious Music|
|Yuyuantan Park||Ancient Chinese Technology|
|Zizhuyuan Park||Chinese Traditional Bamboo Culture|
|Zhongshan Park||Traditional Chinese Painting Arts|
Dress Rehearsal of the Opening Ceremony on 2nd August
Workers on the Olympic project and their families were invited to Saturday's dress rehearsal at the Birds Nest Olympic Stadium
Lovely film of Beijing's SiChuan visitors
Eight giant panda cubs are on holiday from the Wolong Nature Reserve in Sichuan Province. They spent the first two weeks adjusting to the new environment in Beijing Zoo's renovated panda quarters and recuperating from the trauma of the earthquake that struck near their home. The eight pandas are scheduled to stay in Beijing for three months.
5 short films from international directors
Beijing 2008 Olympics Venues
A great set of large photographs in this gallery
Competition among hopeful teams shows dazzling variety
Beijing's 100,000 taxi drivers are now sporting golden yellow shirts and striped ties for the Olympics period.
The Olympics will be shown on 7 channels by CCTV in China
There are now 550 volunteer service stations throughout Beijing
Beijing - the Movie
Some images from filmmaker Feng XiaoGang's short film
There are currently 55,000 students from overseas in Beijing
Beijing has over 2,000 creative lighting installations decorating the city
Free access large screens are in place at Beijing's 24 Cultural Squares, including the 250m screen at 'The Place' near the central business district.
There are also large screens at the Temple of Heaven and The Summer Palace.
China opens world's fastest railway line
The Beijing - Tianjin Intercity Railway opened on August 1st. The passenger trains can run at 350 km per hour. The new service cuts the 120km journey from the 70 minutes now to about 30 minutes, with five stations along the line. The line begins from the new Beijing South Railway Station, the largest in Asia.
The intercity rail line will shuttle spectators, athletes, media people and other passengers between Beijing and Olympic co-host cityTianjin, which is to host 12 football matches from August 6-15. Initially, six trains will be operated on the line, on which construction started in July 2005.
The sleek white trains with aircraft-like cabins, swivel seats, spacious interiors and rooftop solar panels were built by the SiFang Locomotive and Rolling Stock Company and are China's first self-designed and self-manufactured passenger trains.
International Orchestra plays in Tian'AnMen Square
China tops international table of citizens confidence in their country.
86% say they are satisfied with the direction their government is taking the country.
Although the 'world's factory', China has a very low per capita emissions level, about 5 times less than the US and three times less than the UK. China is also the leading producer of renewable energy technology and is investing heavily in this field. You may have heard how China is opening new coal-fired power stations - but what you probably didn't hear is that these are replacing older ones with cleaner new technology. It has the largest hydroelectric capacity and is implementing fuel efficiency standards for vehicles that are 40 per cent higher than those in the United States.
Leading the way
A joyful Olympics with effective but unobtrusive security
"There were uniformed personnel around, sure, but, believe me, cops and soldiers in Barcelona in 1992 and Athens in 2004 displayed more machine guns than I've seen so far. Like none here ... so far. In fact, security systems here are thoughtful."
"The square also has a nice light-touch on security, straightforward bag checks, but not overly cumbersome. My first impression at previous post-9/11 Games has been of more intrusive security. Here, things feel less edgy and there's a confidence thus far in how things are being managed."
The Beijing Guide