Thursday, August 16, 2012

Olympics: History of the Modern Games: 2008 Beijing

The Games of the XXIX Olympiad took place in Beijing, China. A total of 37 venues were used to host the events, including 12 constructed specifically for use at the Games. 11,028 athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees competed in 28 sports and 302 events. The 2008 Games cost an estimated $44 billion.

The centre piece was the Beijing National Stadium ("The Bird's Nest") because of its nest-like skeletal structure. The stadium hosted the opening and closing ceremonies as well as the athletics competition. The opening ceremony lasted over four hours. An estimated 4.1 billion people around the world saw the opening ceremony.

The opening ceremony lasted over four hours. The official song of the 2008 Olympics was called “You and Me", and was performed by Sarah Brightman and Liu Huan.

The design of the 2008 Olympic Torch was based on traditional scrolls and used a traditional Chinese design known as the "Propitious Clouds" (祥云). The torch was designed to remain lit in 65 km/h (40 mph) winds, in temperatures as low as minus 40 °C, and in rain of up to 50 mm (2 in) per hour. Former Chinese gymnast Li Ning lit the cauldron, after being suspended into the air by wires and completing a lap of the National Stadium at roof height. Many Chinese consumers incorrectly identified Li Ning’s company as an official Olympics Games sponsor despite the millions spent by Adidas to secure the sponsorship.

The International Olympic Committee sold separate broadcasting rights for television and new media such as internet and mobile technologies. According to Nielsen Media Research, 4.7 billion viewers worldwide tuned in to some of the television coverage, one-fifth larger than the 3.9 billion who watched the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. The Olympic Committee also set up a separate YouTube channel.

The official logo of these Olympic Games, titled "Dancing Beijing", featured a stylized calligraphic character jīng (京, meaning capital), referring to the host city. The open arms of the calligraphic word symbolised the invitation from China to the world to share in its culture. The official motto for the 2008 Olympics was "One World, One Dream" (同一个世界 同一个梦想).

The mascots for Beijing 2008 or Fuwa are five figures to represent the five Olympic Rings. Each figure is in the colour of the rings blue, yellow, black, green, and red respectivley and are designed to express the playful qualities of five little children who form an intimate circle of friends. The figures represent China's most popular animals i.e the Fish (Beibei – prosperity), the Panda (Jingjing - happyness), the Tibetan Antelope (Yingying – health and strengh), the Swallow (Nini – good luck) and the Olympic Flame (Huanhauan - passion). When the names of the five are put together i.e. Bei Jing Huan Ying Ni this can be translated as "Welcome to Beijing."

American swimmer Michael Phelps broke the records for most gold medals in one Olympics and for most career gold medals for an Olympian by winning eight swimming events.

Jamaican sprinter , Usain Bolt broke both the 100m and 200m world records and claimed a third gold and record with the Jamaican 4 x 100m relay team.

Dawn Harper (US) raced to the finish line in a pair of borrowed spikes in the women’s 100-meter hurdles and wore the same shoes to the winner's podium. Prior to the race Harper discovered the spikes on the single pair of shoes she owned were wearing down. Her friend Michelle Perry, the retired hurdler, loaned her shoes to Harper to race. At the time Dawn had no sponsor to provide her with a new set of spikes.

In cycling, the road race followed the Great Wall and passed in front of the “Forbidden City.”

The 2008 Summer Olympics Closing Ceremony concluded the Beijing Games and included the handover of the Games from Beijing to London.

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