The 2008 Summer Olympics will punctuate three decades of development and test China's global legitimacy. They've already transformed the way millions of people think and live. Seattleite and Fulbright researcher Daniel Beekman brings you Beijing.
August 9, 2008 5:30 AM
Posted by Daniel Beekman
Those with money, power and press passes flocked to the Beijing's Bird's Nest National stadium last night for a radiant Olympic opening ceremonies.
Most Beijingers stayed home, pressed round televisions blaring the long-awaited news - success for China!
But the 80,000-seat Bird's Nest couldn't hold Beijing's patriotic young people. Nor could the city's five million televisions satisfy them.
Enthusiastic Beijingers poured into 26 jumbotron equipped 'Cultural Squares' Friday to sweat, hug and cheer - from Ditan Park near the capital's largest Tibetan temple, to cosmopolitan Chaoyang District's ritziest shopping mall, to suburban Fengtai's Lotus Flower Park, to the Avenue of Everlasting Peace and shopper's walk Wangfujing.
Watching the opening ceremonies at Wangfujing Shopping Street in Beijing
Thousands watched director Zhang Yimou's spectacular ode to the Chinese culture and civilization at Wangfujing, where 'Go China!' chants occasionally broke through an appreciative hush. Zhang's glowing scroll, air-bound astronaut and human hanzi (Chinese characters) won over the crowd.
Then a global marathon, as athletes from 204 nations marched into China's massive National Stadium. Applause for Australia, Hungary, South Korea, Brazil, Canada, Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal, Ivory Coast soccer boss Didier Drogba, the NBA's Dirk Nowitzki and Russian politician Vladimir Putin.
Many Wangfujing youngsters booed Japan's Olympic athletes, and drowned out shouts of 'USA!' screaming 'Victory for China!' America's Kobe Bryant and Lebron James, favored to snatch a gold medal in basketball, stood tall.
Those who remained past midnight saw gymnast-turned-businessman Li Ning's stunning aerial sprint to light 2008's Olympic flame, and went wild with excitement.
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