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Opening ceremony of Beijing Olympic Games begins 2008-08-08 19:55:22  

    BEIJING, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) --

The opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games began in the National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest, in north Beijing at 8 p.m. on Friday.

    A formation of 2,008 young men controlled 2,008 Fou, an ancient percussion instrument of China with a 3,000-year history, all embedded with LED beads, to flash out the last seconds of the seven-year countdown to the Games, which started on July 13, 2001.

    Chinese President Hu Jintao and International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge rose from their seats in the VIP stand to wave to a cheering crowd in the full-packed stadium.

    The formation of Fou beaters then started a thunderous welcoming ceremony, chanting Confucius' saying "How Happy We Are, To Meet Friends From Afar!"

    Twenty-nine colossal footprints, created by firework explosions in the sky and symbolizing the successive summer Olympics, traveled all the way along the central axis of Beijing, from the ancient city gate of Yongdingmen in the south to the futurist steel-framed Bird's Nest.

    Sparkles fell into the stadium and "lit up" a huge LED screen that showed the Olympic five rings. Embraced by "flying fairies" in shining costumes, the five rings, also made up with LED beads, were lifted in the air before the unbelieving eyes of some 91,000 spectators.

    To the melodious rhythm of the song "A hymn to the motherland," the Chinese national flag was ushered in the stadium, and hoisted with the excited and proud home crowd singing the national anthem loudly.

Editor: Xinhuanet

Facts and figures about Beijing Olympics opening ceremony 2008-08-08 20:20:23  

    BEIJING, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) --

The 29th summer Olympic Games opened in Beijing on Friday night. The following are some facts and figures about the opening ceremony.



    The opening was held in the National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest, in the Olympic Green in northern Beijing.

    The stadium was jointly designed by Herzog & de Meuron Design Office, and China Architecture Design & Research Group and ARUP. Its construction began on Dec. 24, 2003, and completed on June 30, 2008. Altogether 45,000 tonnes of steel was used to build its framework.

    The stadium's seating capacity is 91,000, including 11,000 temporary seats. The floor space is 258,000 square meters.



    A major elevating platform at the center is 20 meters in diameter, weighing about 400 tonnes, and can reach 11.4 meters high at a speed of zero to 12 meters per minute.

    Two moving lids on the stage serve as a roof.

    A 36 by 22 meters LED screen is installed on the plates.

    On the south and north sides are 30 complementary platforms, with each 3-meter-wide and 3-meter-long.

    When the two lids move toward the center, the complementary platforms will rise and make up the stage.

    Two sets of 22-meter-long LED scroll painting were installed, with a diameter of 22 meters.

    With LED images shown on it, the scroll painting can stretch 147 meters long.



    Ten steel ropes are hung above the stage, weighing 40 tonnes in all and with a total length of 55 kilometers.

    Among the 31 wire devices, 16 sets can carry a load of 300 kilograms each, with a load of 100 kilograms for each of the other 15. All can move at 3 meters per second and can function at the same time.

    One hundred jumping facilities with a load capacity of 80 kilograms each are set under the rim of the roof edge, which can move at 3 meters per second and be operated simultaneously.



    A 147 by 22 meters LED screen is laid at the center. Approximately 44,000 colorful LED beads are embedded with a distance of 600 millimeters between each two.



    -- 287 points on the top of National Stadium

    -- 27 positions in the central area of National Stadium

    -- 12 positions in the Olympic Green

    -- 29 positions on the axis of the city

    -- 4 places in other urban areas



    A total of 110 minutes of music was created by 18 composers for the opening ceremony.



    Altogether 2,583 special lights are used and lighting equipment weighing more than 300 tonnes has been installed. Electricity load for lighting totals 6,440 kilowatt.



    A total of 15,153 sets of costumes in 47 styles.



    Some performances have been rehearsed for 13 months. Volunteers began their first mass rehearsal in March 2008.

Editor: Xinhuanet

Backgrounder: Beijing Olympics opening features four inventions of ancient China 2008-08-08 20:42:24  

    BEIJING, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) --

The opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics held here on Friday night features the four great inventions by ancient Chinese: papermaking, movable type printing, compass and gunpowder.



    The invention of papermaking is one of China's special contributions to the spread and the development of human civilizations.

    Papermaking was represented in Friday's opening ceremony with a Chinese painting scroll that opened to begin the performances and a sheet of white paper that was laid in the center of the scroll.



    In the "writing" part of the opening ceremony was a performance of movable type printing, which takes an image of both ancient character case and modern computer keyboard.

    Movable type printing began with engraving printing of Sui Dynasty (581 AD-618 AD). Bi Sheng of Song Dynasty (960 AD-1276 AD) improved the movable type printing by making the baked clay into movable characters for type-setting printing; thus he accomplished a significant revolution in printing history.

    Bi Sheng is known as the first ancestor of printing. The movable type printing pioneered the modern civilization of mankind.



    The compass was introduced to Europe approximately in the 12th century. Its application to the navigation resulted in the voyage of Columbus' discovery of the New World and Magellan's global navigation.

    In the "Silk Road" part of the performances, an important passage for economic and cultural exchanges between China and Western countries, a performer held an ancient compass in his hand.



    Gunpowder was represented in the display of fireworks.

    Gunpowder was invented in the Song Dynasty (960 AD-1276 AD) in China. It is the mixture of potassium nitrate, sulfur and charcoal -- elements that people took as medicine in ancient times, hence the name "gunpowder" in Chinese means "burning medicines".

Editor: Xinhuanet

Backgrounder: Heritage sites at Beijing Olympics opening 2008-08-08 20:49:25  

    BEIJING, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) --

The Beijing Olympics opening ceremony on Friday featured two major heritage sites, the Great Wall and the Silk Road.

    In the "Writing" part of the performances, the Great Wall was demonstrated by smooth lines, both concise and vivid.

    The Great Wall was built as defence works after Emperor Qin Shi Huang united China. Later generations kept expanding it and in the Ming Dynasty, the Great Wall stretched 6,700 kilometers from Jiayuguan Pass in the west to Shanhaiguan Pass in the east.

    The ancient Silk Road was part of the performances, with a map and cultural symbols along the road on the ground.

    The Silk Road refers to the land passage opened when Zhang Qian was sent to the Western Regions on a diplomatic mission in the Western Han Dynasty (202 BC-25 AD), starting from today's Xi'an, via Gansu and Xinjiang, to central and western Asia and connecting the Mediterranean countries.

    Silk, a traditional Chinese product, was typical among the commodities traded along the route.

Editor: Xinhuanet

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