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World spotlight on China as Beijing Olympics begin
China National News
Friday 8th August, 2008

Carrying Pierre de Coubertin's dream of 'solidarity, peace and friendship' to the world's most populous country, the 29th summer Olympic Games opened in Beijing on Friday, 112 years after the Games' modern revival.

At 23:36 Beijing time, at the invitation of International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge, Chinese President Hu Jintao declared open the Games, before an ecstatic audience of 91,000 in the fully-packed National Stadium, or the Bird's Nest, and some 4 billion TV viewers worldwide.

Earlier, with bands playing welcome tunes in turns, the nearly two-hour parade of the athletes started with Greece, the country that nurtured the Olympic Games over 2,800 years ago, as usual and ended with the host.

More than 80 foreign leaders and international dignitaries, including U.S. President George W. Bush, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and IOC Honorary President Juan Antonio Samaranch, were seated in the VIP stand along with top Chinese leaders.

The 1,099-member Chinese delegation includes 639 athletes, topping all participating teams in a sharp contrast to the country's embarrassing Olympic debut at Los Angeles in 1932, where only one Chinese sprinter took part.

The Chinese athletes, in red and yellow suits of their national flag colors, were led by 7-foot-6 basketball star Yao Ming. Yao and other super stars, such as defending Olympic champion hurdler Liu Xiang and the star-studded table tennis and diving teams, have met great public anticipation to deliver at home.

The United States and Russia, which are widely expected to join the host as the biggest winners in Beijing, sent in more than 600 athletes and nearly 500 athletes respectively.

With only four athletes, the Iraqi team stole the limelight as they did in Athens 2004, for their last minute escape from an IOC ban over Baghdad's alleged 'political interference' in the Olympic affairs. The team entered to a roaring ovation.

Thundering cheers rocked the full-packed stadium, while splendid fireworks lit up the city skyline.

The exciting opening announcement came after a nearly-one-hour art performance highlighting China's 5,000-year civilization and modern achievements, and the 2.5-hour march-in of the more than 10,000 athletes from 204 countries and regions.

'Today, the Olympic flame lit in Olympia has come to the end of its odyssey and will be kindled to adorn the night sky of Beijing,' said Liu Qi, president of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 29th Olympic Games (BOCOG), in his speech.

'Hosting an Olympic Games has been a century-old dream for the Chinese nation. For seven years, ever since Beijing won its Olympic bid, the hearts of 1.3 billion Chinese people have been pulsating in unison with the Olympic Movement,' he added.

In his speech, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge congratulated Beijing on its dream coming true Friday.

'For a long time, China has dreamed of opening its doors and inviting the world's athletes to Beijing for the Olympic Games,' said Rogge.

'You have chosen as the theme of these Games 'One World, One Dream.' That is what we are tonight,' he added.

'These Games belong to you. Let them be the athletes' Games,' the IOC chief told the athletes.

He also thanked Beijing, the Games organizers and the 'gracious volunteers,' before inviting President Hu to declare open the Games.

With the games now underway, the Beijing Olympics have become the focus of global media attention.

An article titled 'China deserves plaudits,' published Friday on the Web site of major Indian newspaper The Hindu, said the Olympics has provided China with a 'dramatic stage' and the country has been able to ride out most of the challenges it faced during the preparatory period for the Games.

'The Olympics have become a catalyst for sweeping changes.Beijing was transformed architecturally, historically and even temperamentally. For China, the Olympics is more than a sporting event, it is as much about prestige and international acceptance,' the article said.

Meanwhile, a front-page story in leading Yemeni newspaper Al Thawra said the Beijing Olympics will turn out to be the most successful Games in history.

It also said China, the host of the grand event, is likely to be placed high on the Olympic medal list, posing an actual threat to the United States, which has dominated the event since the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

Thailand's Chinese-language newspaper The Asian News Time congratulated Beijing for hosting the Olympic Games in a commentary published Friday, saying the Chinese people have finally realized their Olympic dream and have shown the world that China, which is on a peaceful rise, bears great hospitality and selfless devotion.

The Beijing Olympics also signals China's intensified efforts at 'embracing the world,' Indonesia's largest Chinese-language newspaper International Daily said Friday.

'Preparations for the Games have brought about comprehensive changes to Beijing and China at large...the 5,000-year-old civilization has taken new steps to improve itself and contribute its utmost to world peace and progress.'

Nouvelles d'Europe, one of Europe's foremost Chinese dailies, said the world was focusing on China at present as it is set to present its infinite vitality and charm to the global community.

People all over the world would feel the hospitality of the Chinese people and further comprehend China's pursuit of peace and friendship, the newspaper said.

The Chinese people are brimming with pride and patriotism, said Jeremy Thompson, a British Sky Broadcasting (BSB) news anchor, while reporting Friday from near Beijing's National Stadium, also known as the 'Bird's Nest.'

His colleague Peter Sharp commented that the Beijing Games were terrific since they demonstrate China's increasingly important role on the world stage.

Major newspapers in Germany also carried stories about the Beijing Olympics on Friday.

The Beijing Olympics will definitely bring China and the European Union closer, Wolfgang Grupp, president of German sportswear supplier Trigerma, was cited as saying by the Suddeutsche Zeitung daily.

Germany TV broadcasters ARD and ZDF plan to air 300 hours of Olympic-related TV programs, and publish game results and experts' commentaries on their Web sites.

Also, newspapers across Romania published special Olympic-themed editions.

Televiziunea Romania, the country's national TV broadcaster, said it would provide 320 hours of coverage to the Beijing Games.
A Muslim separatist group in China has made a new video threat against the Beijing Olympics, warning Muslims to keep their children away

Chinese Islamists threaten Olympics - US group (external - login to view)Manila Times - 2 Hours agoWASHINGTON: A Muslim separatist group in China has threatened to attack planes and ground transport at the Beijing Olympics, a US intelligence monitoring group said Thursday. The threat, accompanied by
Islamic group threatens Olympic transportation, warns Muslims to stay off trains, (external - login to view)AP via Baltimore Sun - 3 Hours agoURUMQI, China (AP) _ Police shut down the bustling bazaar in the capital of China's restive Muslim region of Xinjiang on Friday amid threats from an Islamic group that attackers might target buses, trains
Islamic group threatens Olympics (external - login to view)Ironton Tribune - 3 Hours agoThe Associated Press BEIJING A Chinese Islamic faction that has threatened to attack the Olympics released a new video warning Muslims to stay away from the Beijing games and avoid buses, trains, planes
Islamic group threatens Olympic transport (external - login to view)Chicago Sun-Times - 6 Hours agocs, but experts skeptical URUMQI, China---- Police shut down the bustling bazaar in the capital of China's restive Muslim region of Xinjiang on Friday amid threats from an Islamic group that attackers

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