Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony: A Year Ago Today

Posted by Charlie @ Discovering Mandarin Saturday, 8 August 2009
The Olympic flag has a white background, with five interlaced rings in the centre: blue, yellow, black, green and red. This design is symbolic; it represents the five continents of the world, united by Olympism, while the six colours are those that appear on all the national flags of the world at the present time.

"Dancing Beijing" is a milestone of the Olympics. It serves as a classic chapter of the Olympic epic inscribed by the spirit of the Chinese nation, calligraphed by the deeper import of the ancient civilization, and molded by the character of Cathay's descendents. It is concise yet deep inside, bringing forth the city's gradual changes and development. It appears dignified yet bears a tune of romance, reflecting the nation's thoughts and emotions.

"Dancing Beijing" the embelem for the 2008 Sumer olympics shows the eastern ways of thinking and the nation's lasting appeal embodied in the Chinese characters. It is an expression that conveys the unique cultural quality and elegance of Chinese civilization.

The color "red" is intensively used in the emblem, it carries Chinese people's longing for luck and happiness and their explanation of life. Red is the color of the Sun and the Holy Fire, representing life and a new beginning. Red is mind at ease, symbol of vitality, and China's blessing and invitation to the world.

The iconic olympic rings and Beijing's ident were complimented with these cute characters. Fuwa served as the Official Mascots of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, carrying a message of friendship, peace and good wishes from China; to children all over the world.

Designed to express the playful qualities of five little children who form an intimate circle of friends, Fuwa also embody the natural characteristics of four of China's most popular animals and the olympic flame. Each of Fuwa has a rhyming two-syllable name -- a traditional way of expressing affection for children in China. Beibei is the Fish, Jingjing is the Panda, Huanhuan is the Olympic Flame, Yingying is the Tibetan Antelope and Nini is the Swallow.

When you put their names together -- Bei Jing Huan Ying Ni -- they say "Welcome to Beijing," offering a warm invitation that reflects the mission of Fuwa as young ambassadors of the Olympic Games.

Despite many of the troubles on the way, the torch relay was one of the most spectacular things that occur preceeding the games. The torch was carried by 21,880 torchbearers and travelled over 137,000km; making it to the summit of the highest mountain in the world, Olympia - Marathonas - Athens (Greece), Istanbul (Turkey), St. Petersburg (Russia), London (Great Britain) – Paris (France), San Francisco (USA), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Muscat (Oman), Islamabad (Pakistan), Mumbai (India), Bangkok (Thailand), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Jakarta (Indonesia), Canberra (Australia), Nagano (Japan), Seoul (South Korea) and Pyongyang (North Korea) amounst many other places.

Chinese climbers display flags at the top of the 8844.43-meter summit of Mt. Qomolangma (Everest) in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region on May 8, 2008. Mt Everest in Chinese is called 珠穆朗玛峰 Zhūmùlǎngmǎ Fēng. (literally meaning bright pearl summit: though 圣母峰 Shèngmǔfēng refers to the sky goddess of the mountain).

The Olympic Flame was carried through London by 80 torchbearers including double Olympic gold medal winner Dame Kelly Holmes and England cricketer Kevin Pieterson. During which time there was an attack, as with other places in the relay, these troubles threatened to put a stop to the incredible tradition. But the epic journey itself is so incredible, hopefully they wont cancel future torch relays.

China invented fireworks, and put on one of the most amazing displays the world has ever seen in the Olympic opening ceremony. It featured a colorful display of nearly 30000 fireworks, and was absolutley spectacular coming from the new National 'Birds Nest' Stadium. Again not to go without controversy, it was revealed that some of the fireworks (about 55 seconds) had been digitally enhanced for the recorded viewing, however that shouldnt really detract from the spectacle, and what was done, was using new technology to create an even more incredible show.

The sparkling display that lit up the night sky included giant dragons, the five Olympic rings, footprints and even smiling faces. The show was divided into several parts and ran throughout the ceremony. The pyrotechnics were not just for the Bird's Nest, but all across Beijing. Fireworks were set off from 29 other locations, including Yongdingmen and Tian'anmen Square.

The opening ceremony comprised of more than 15,000 performers, the ceremony lasted over four hours and was reported to have cost over US$100 million to produce. Performers ranged from a stadium full of drummers, to dancers as well as martial artists performing tai chi en-mass.

The very impressive 2008 people hitting drums counting down to the lighting of the torch was reported as “Drum Show” in much of the media. Actually, what they were hitting was not drums. It is called Fou (缶). It is the ancient Chinese container for wine.

In the Qin Dynasty (200 BC), people start to hit the Fou to express welcome to friends, especially for friends from far away. While they hit the Fou (drums), they are reciting the famous quote from Confucius: “有朋自远方来,不亦乐乎?”, or using direct translation: “Friends coming from far away, isn’t it happy enough?”, or a better translation: “Welcome friends from the world”.

The countdown itself was in both English and Chinese numbers.

Above you can see the number 8, and the Chinese symbol for eight 八 (bā).

In the Olympics, it is an IOC rule for countries to enter the stadium in alphabetical order of the local language, so in this case, the Chinese language. Greece always leads the procession with the host country (China - above- for the 2008 Olympics) entering last.

The Chinese do not have an alphabet, so in this case they decided to enter the stadium based upon the number of strokes required to write the first sylable of each country competing. For example; Australia who usually enter third, at the Beijing Olympics entered 202ndrd. You can see the full list of countries in the Chinese 'Alphabetical' system here.

Gymnast Li Ning (China's most decorated athlete at its first Olympics, 1984) lit the torch, appearing to run up the walls of the stadium lighting the Olympic cauldron with the well travelled torch.

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  1. Puerhan Says:
  2. Interesting. Were you there or did you see it on TV?

    Couple of spell-checks for you:

    contreversey -> controversy

    Confusion -> Confucius


  3. Sadly, I have still never been.

    However I did watch it on tele.

    (Thanks for the spelling mistakes. I was up til 7am writing this and the other Olympic Article fully) My eyes hurt and may have been missed spelling and rash grammar changes courteousy of Microsoft Word.


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