The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games were a perfect occasion to showcase China's 5,000-year history as well as its high-tech achievements and innovative capacity. For many, this was the first fascinating glimpse at a country that had been closed to outsiders for years.
In 2008, Beijing geared up to receive over half a million overseas visitors and two and a half million domestic tourists during the Summer games scheduled from August 8th to the 24th.
Preparations were underway as soon as the announcement was made in 2001 and during these seven years, China set out to ready that awe-inspiring vision which would be presented to the entire world, all eyes would be on China for these two weeks.
And so, on the evening of 08/08/08, at precisely 08:08:08 p.m. 2008 drummers set the stage for the perfect countdown to an unforgettable and astounding performance that marked not only the opening of the Bejing Olympic Games but the arrival of China to the international stage.
The Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony
The Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony was a magnificent and dazzling event featuring thousands of performers and their magnificent costumes
as fireworks exploded all around the Bird's Nest and illuminated the entire city.
Directed by reknowned filmaker Zhang Yimou, the coreography was like nothing ever seen before and commanded the highest price tag in Olympic history.
It took 22,000 people to put the entire production together, including 15,000 performers and their extravagant costumes. Over 40,000 fireworks were lit.
It showcased 5,000 years of Chinese history, heritage, art and contributions to humanity in the way of the well-known
Chinese inventions like printing, gunpowder, the compass...
91,000 people attended the event at the Bird's Nest, and over 2 billion TV viewers watched at home. This grand spectacle was viewed by nearly one-third of the world's population!
After the longest Torch Relay ever in Olympic history as the Torch traveled 137,000 kilometers around the world, it finally arrived at the Bird's Nest, where Li Ning, China's first Olympic star and six-time gymnastics gold medalist, carried it and lit the Olympic flame in
the huge cauldron overlooking Beijing as fireworks exploded all accross the skyline.
Beijing Olympics Games and Venues
Over 37 venues hosted events during the Summer games, where a total of 11,028 athletes from 204 countries participated in 302 competitions.
Of the 37 venues, 31 are in Beijing and located at the Olympic Green.
The Olympic Green or the Olympic Park, located in Chaoyang District, is where the action was. The Bird's Nest and the Water Cube, the most
prominent and memorable are
located here, as well as a Convention Center and other fields for the different disciplines like hockey, tennis, etc. and the Olympic Village that hosted
The Bird's Nest
The Bird's Nest is the Beijing National Stadium and the centerpiece of the events. It was the home of both the Opening and Closing Ceremonies with capacity
for 91,000 visitors. The number of spectators has since been reduced to 80,000. Athletics and Football finals also took place here.
The Water Cube
The Water Cube is mostly remembered for... Michael Phelps... 8 Gold Medals... that butterfly kick!
This all happened at the Beijing National Aquatics Center, the Water Cube, next to the Bird's Nest. The Water Cube was built
for the swimming and diving competitions for the 2008 games where 25 world records were broken. Nowadays it has been
redone into a Water Park.
The "Dancing Beijing" Emblem contains a red seal and Chinese character for jing or "national capital" and the open arms are China's invitation to the world to share in its culture...
"One World One Dream" reflects the wishes from people all over the world, inspired by the Olympic spirit, to unite and build a better future for all despite differences in languages, races, or cultures, we all share the same dreams and ideals.
Beijing Olympic Mascots
The mascots of Beijing 2008 are the five Fuwa, each representing one color of the Olympic Rings. They carry a message of friendship and peace to children all over the world.
They are symbols of four of China's most popular animals plus the Olympic flame:
BeiBei the Fish
JingJing the Panda
HuanHuan the Olympic Flame
YingYing the Tibetan Antelope
NiNi the Swallow
Together they say: "Bei Jing Huan Ying Ni" or "Welcome to Beijing"!