08-08-2008 13:27

Special Report:   2008 Beijing Olympic Games

The splendor of every Olympic Games begins with the opening ceremony. And on Friday night, the eyes of the world will be on the performance at the Bird's Nest, China's national stadium.
The splendor of every Olympic Games begins with the 
opening ceremony.
Organizers in Beijing have entrusted internationally-acclaimed Chinese director Zhang Yimou with creating an enthralling and memorable production. Several dress rehearsals have taken place. Zhang Yimou and his team remain tight-lipped about the details. He says he wants to keep up suspense until the very last moment.

The BOCOG has announced that all preparations are complete for the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games. Though organizers remain tightlipped about the lighting of the cauldron and identity of the final torch bearer, they revealed on Wednesday that the theme song of the Games will be jointly performed by Chinese veteran singer Liu Huan and British star Sara Brightman.

This is the operation center of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympic Games.

The man in charge of the galas steers clear of any specific details. But Zhang Yimou says he and his team are fully aware that the ceremony should be a perfect blend of sports and art. And they want to do this by presenting China's long history through a unique perspective.

Zhang Yimou said, "China's 5,000 years of civilization is splendid. There is no doubt about it. But we can only offer the world a brief display. We are not supposed to turn the ceremony into a history lesson. In a word, the ceremony has to be memorable, pleasant and touching. This is our starting point."

The huge success of the ceremony at Athens puts a lot of pressure on Zhang and his team. But it's also inspiring.

Zhang Yimou said, "We have to say the opening ceremony of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games opened up a new aesthetic angle. It breaks away from many traditional approaches, like group rhythmic gymnastics. The visual impact of the opening ceremony is simply cool."

Many critics say the success of Athens largely lies in the innovative use of story-telling techniques in presenting its myths and traditions. The Chinese team artists are facing the same challenge. The whole world is looking forward to seeing how they will tell this story about China for the Olympics tonight.

What the grand ceremony will be like has everyone guessing. Several rounds of dress rehearsals have allowed only a few glimpses into the much-anticipated event. No one knows for sure what's in store. But these performers in full costume just outside the Bird's Nest give a fair indication of the scale. Organizers say well over 10,000 performers will be mobilized. And all over the world, an estimated 4 billion viewers will be glued to their television screens for the spectacular.

Those with tickets to the rehearsals were lucky. A seat in the Bird's Nest is beyond the reach of most. So the vast majority in Beijing had to be content with the show in the sky. Thousands of people gathered at overpass bridges in the vicinity of the Bird's Nest or Tian'anmen Square for a taste of the festivities.

Ms Wang, 65-year-old local resident, said "The bus I took was very crowded. Many people come here to watch the fireworks. We are so excited. I came a long way here and maybe I can only watch the fireworks for just a couple of minutes. But I still feel it worthwhile and I am very happy."

Local resident Mr. Chen said, "The Olympics is a once-in-a-life-time event. I think I will remember it for my whole life."

Organizers say the firework displays on the night of August 8th will run as long as 20 minutes. The sparkling display that will light up the night sky includes giant dragons, the five Olympic rings and even smiling faces. The show is divided into several parts and will run throughout the ceremony.

The pyrotechnics are not just for the Bird's Nest, but all across Beijing. Fireworks will be set off from 29 other locations, including Yongdingmen and Tian'anmen Square. When the main torch is lit, that will be the signal for simultaneous displays at the Bird's Nest and the section of the Great Wall at Juyongguan Pass.


Editor:Meng Rui