A fireworks show during the opening ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 at the National Stadium in Beijing on February 4 (XINHUA)
My wife and I attended the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games at the National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest, in Beijing on February 4.
The first thing that struck me on arrival was how spectacular the Olympic Park was looking, with all of the main buildings illuminated with dazzling light displays. The second thing that impressed me was the friendly and cheerful demeanor of the volunteers helping and guiding the crowds. The long wait inside the Bird's Nest passed quickly, as hundreds of children put on a pre-show entertainment that kept the audience warm in the intense cold.
The performance elements of the opening ceremony were unbelievable, using special effects never seen before at such an event to turn a vertical wall and the flat stadium ground into a series of astounding 3D scenes. Two that stood out in particular were the ice hockey players who struck a puck that blasted its way across the "rink," and an image of the stadium as a boiling ocean of waves.
Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee, made a dignified speech, emphasizing that the spirit of the Games is about peace, international cooperation, and friendly competition. At the same time, he took the opportunity to deliver some tactful yet pointed remarks directed toward those who have tried to spoil these Olympics by politicizing them. His message was subtly underlined by the choice of cross-country skier Dinigeer Yilamujiang, a Uygur athlete from Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, as one of the final torchbearers.
In contrast to the spectacular efforts to which we have become accustomed, the Olympic torch itself was beautifully understated and tasteful—a single small Olympic torch like a candle, within a giant snowflake composed of dozens of smaller snowflakes containing the names of every participating country and region.
The parade of the nations was a stately one, and the participants cannot fail to have been moved and inspired by the experience, and the warm welcome extended to all of them by the audience.
In keeping with the decision to make these Games the most eco-friendly ever, the fireworks display was stunning but very brief.
Leaving the stadium after the event, I was once again moved by the demeanor of the volunteers. Many of them had enlisted and practiced for weeks for the privilege of spending hours—I don't know how long, possibly 10 or more—standing in the freezing cold in one place, far from the excitement in the stadium. But they sent us on our way with smiles, waves, laughter, and messages of welcome and Happy New Year wishes. They capture everything that is best about the Olympics.
My gratitude goes to the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, at whose invitation my wife and I were able to attend the ceremony.
The author is an editor and writer with Beijing-based Foreign Languages Press
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