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Beijing Opens 3rd Summer Olympics in Asia

Posted August. 09, 2008 07:24,   


“One World, One Dream”

The 17-day Beijing Summer Olympics began Friday evening with a grand opening ceremony at Beijing National Stadium.

China dreamt of this moment for more than a century and prepared hard for seven years. The 1.3 billion Chinese all hailed their re-emergence on the world stage since the heyday of the Han Tang Dynasty more than a millennium ago.

A record 80 heads of state attended the ceremony, accompanied by around 91,000 people at the stadium.

The estimated TV audience was four billion viewers around the world.

Around 11,000 athletes from 205 countries and regions will compete, the largest in Olympic history.

The opening ceremony began at 8 p.m. and ended 11:30 p.m.

The event featured the waving of the Olympic flag; a parade of athletes; comments from International Olympic Committee members including its leader Jacques Rogge; the declaration by Chinese President Hu Jintao to open the Games; and the lighting of the Olympic torch.

The climax came with the lighting of the torch flame, which had traveled 137,000 kilometers through 21 countries and China under the theme “Journey of Harmony.”

Rain was forecast in late afternoon, but did not fall. Beijing, however, did see a heavy fog from morning.

For the convenience of those attending the ceremony, the Chinese capital ran eight subway lines around the clock.

The Olympics also opened on an auspicious day for the Chinese. A total of 15,480 couples, five times the normal number, got married yesterday given that the opening ceremony’s date had four eights (8 p.m. August 8, 2008). Eight is considered a lucky number in China.

Before the opening ceremony, Hu invited visiting heads of state to a luncheon at the Great Hall of the People at noon.

Korean President Lee Myung-bak sat down with North Korea’s No. 2 leader Kim Yong Nam and six other guests at a large table. Their host was Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of the 10th National People’s Congress.