With plenty of pomp and pageantry (not to mention some serious pyrotechnics)—and with auspicious figures like President Bush and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in attendance—the Olympic Summer Games kicked off in Beijing on Friday.
AP via Breitbart.com:
Now ascendant as a global power, China welcomed scores of world leaders to an opening ceremony watched by 91,000 people at the eye-catching National Stadium and a potential audience of 4 billion worldwide. It was depicted as the largest, costliest extravaganza in Olympic history, bookended by barrages of some 30,000 fireworks.
It ended in spectacular fashion, when China’s first Olympic superstar, 1984 six-time gymnastics gold medalist Li Ning, was hoisted by wires to the top of the stadium, circled the entire circumference as though he was spacewalking, then used his torch to send a torrent of flame spiraling upward to light the Olympic flame in a huge cauldron overlooking Beijing.
That was preceded by the parade of athletes, climaxing with the entry of the 639-strong Chinese team; It was led by flag-bearer and basketball idol Yao Ming alongside a 9-year-old schoolboy who survived May’s devastating earthquake in Sichuan province.
The welcome—by a frenzied, chanting, flag-waving crowd that sought to cool itself with paper fans in the stifling heat—was thunderous. And moments later, the crowd erupted again when President Hu Jintao declared the games open.