Beijing was the Games of records and superlatives. The Opening Ceremony was unforgettable; the athletes’ achievements were astonishing, the organisation was excellent; the venues breathtaking and the anti-doping tests were stricter. Several hundred million watched worldwide on TV as more than 40 world records and over 130 Olympic records were broken.
MODERN AND ANCIENT
The National Stadium, nick-named the “Bird’s Nest”, and the National Swimming Centre, known as the “Water Cube”, were both stunning symbols of the new Beijing. In cycling, the road race followed the Great Wall and passed in front of the “Forbidden City” - two symbols of the thousand-year-old history of the city.
A record 204 National Olympic Committees took part in the Games. Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Mauritius and Togo all experienced podium finishes for the first time. However Mongolia and Panama managed to go one better with their athletes bringing home their country’s first Olympic gold.
There were many memorable champions but it was Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt who stole the headlines. Phenomenal US swimmer Michael Phelps bettered Mark Spitz’s achievement at the 1972 Munich Games by claiming eight swimming golds and the incredible 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.
Athletes: 10,942 (4,637 women, 6,305 men)
Volunteers: 100,000 (70,000 Olympic Games, 30,000 Paralympic Games)
Media: 24,562 accredited media representing 159 countries
The official emblem of Beijing 2008 entitled "Chinese Seal-Dancing Beijing" cleverly combines the Chinese seal and the art of calligraphy with sporting features, transforming the elements into a human figure running forward and embracing triumph.
The figure resembles the Chinese character "Jing", which stands for the name of the host city and represents a particularly significant Chinese style. The artwork embodies four messages: * Chinese culture, * the color of red China * Beijing welcomes friends from all over the world * to challenge the extreme and achieve the perfect and promote the Olympic motto of "Citius, Altius, Fortius (Faster, Higher, Stronger).
Number of torchbearers:
21 800 including 630 in Greece
137 000 km including 1 528 in Greece and 97 000 in continental China
Almaty, Istanbul, St. Petersburg, London, Paris, San Francisco, Buenos Aires, Dar es Salaam, Muscat, Islamabad, New Delhi, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Canberra, Nagano, Seoul, Pyongyang, Ho Chi Minh City, Macao. The 2008 Olympic Flame also reached the summit of Mount Everest
Each name rhymes by repeating the same syllable: a traditional Chinese way of showing affection to children. Linking the five names forms the sentence “Welcome to Beijing” (Bei Jing Huan Ying Nin). The mascots form the “Fuwa”, which translates as “good-luck dolls”.
The mascots correspond to the five natural elements and, apart from Huanhuan, to four popular animals in China. Each mascot represents the colour of one of the five Olympic rings. Each also bears a wish, as it was traditional in ancient Chinese culture to transmit wishes through signs or symbols.
Beibei the fish is a reference to the element of water. She is blue and her wish is prosperity. The waves on her head are based on a design in traditional Chinese painting.
Jingjing the panda represents the forest. He is black and his wish is happiness. Porcelain paintings from the Song dynasty (960-1279 AD) were the inspiration for the lotus flowers on his head.
Yingying, the Tibetan antelope, represents earth. He is yellow and his wish is good health. Decorative elements from Western China appear on his head.
Nini, the swallow, represents the sky. She is green and her wish is good luck. Her design is inspired by those on Chinese kites. Swallow is pronounced “Yan” in Chinese, and an ancient name for Beijing was “Yanjing”.
Huanhuan is a child of fire. He is red and transmits the passion of sport as well as symbolises the Olympic flame and spirit. Dunhuang grotto art inspired the decoration on his head, together with certain traditional good-luck designs.
DID YOU KNOW?