Sunday, August 10, 2008

Let the games begin!

Li Ning lit the Olympics flame in a breath taking trapeze act, the images of the torch journey across the world revealed on screen with ever leap Li took across the rim of the stadium, covering a distance of 350 meters. When every one wondered how the torch would be lit, he extended the flame that blazed to the top of the big torch on a trail smeared with gunpowder.

Protests against China, disruptions during the flame journey, charges of human right violation, free Tibet campaigns, world leaders refusal to attend the opening ceremony, nothing in the last few months was in favor of China, except for their determination to make Beijing Olympics ‘BIG’.

If ever there was one most powerful place on the earth, it was the Bird’s Nest on 8th Aug 08. World leaders including all those who threatened to boycott the opening ceremony sat through the grand start of the world’s greatest sporting event, making the motto of this Olympics “One World One Dream” a reality at least for that moment.

Watching the presentation of the journey of a 5000-year-old civilization, depiction of the spirit of China through its people and art forms, usage of technology in the best creative way, was the most humbling experience. The sound of ‘Fou’ (an ancient instrument) thundered and roared with great percussion welcoming the world to China, the fire works blazed across creating the 29-foot prints indicating the 29th Olympics.

Children from the 56 ethnic groups in China gathered around their national flag, and as the flag moved in, a chorus of 56 artists representing the 56 ethnic groups sang the national anthem in one voice, simply saying they all represent one great nation.

2008 drummers synchronizing movements & sound and the light effects there after, was a visual treat. It was paradise on earth, when the women dressed in white did the dove dance expressing peace, freedom and love with music playing in the background, the spectators imitating the hand movements of the dancers and cheering loud. Well co-ordinated firework lit the dark sky in colors, as the laser displays mesmerized the 91000 odd spectators in the stadium and billions across the globe watching it on television.

As estimated $40 million has been spent on the event, but the preparations to be the perfect host started the day China won the games bid. They left no stone unturned, be it making their people learn English, stopping the climbers at Everest camp 4 to ensure the Olympic torch reached the Everest summit without any disruption, diverting traffic to reduce pollution levels in their cities, ordering the restaurants in China not to serve dog meat, encouraging their people to prepare their businesses for the visitors etc etc the list can go on.

If the US flag bearer was Lopez Lomong, a refugee rescued by the US army from Sudan, who is also a 1500-meter medal hope for his adopted country, China had its ‘tallest’ Basketball star Yoa Ming carrying the flag, with a tiny little child who survived the devastating earthquake in China marching along. It was as expression of reassurance to its people that the country is with them during their difficult times, and also telling the world that nothing can deter the spirit of this 5000 year old civilization.

It’s a shame that, India with almost the same population, civilization as old as Chinese and technology better than the best in the world has a mere 56-members contingent as against the 639-members Chinese contingent. Discipline, Hard work, Determination, which I call the ‘Chinese way of life’, is some thing we lack as a country. Amaranth land row, name boards in Marati, Tamil protests against Kannada’s classic language status etc etc, is all we care about, wish we grew beyond these trivial things, and look at bigger challenges that are only getting bigger each day.

8 is considered the most auspicious number for the Chinese, the day was 08-08-08, time 08 pm, 8 runners in the flame relay, 8 flag bearers, and many of their themes revolved around number 8. It’s definitely an 8-on-8 for this Olympics games host.

If a four-hour long Beijing Olympics opening ceremony was one thing, it was the display of Dragon power.

For China, it just not Olympics, its also about telling the world that they have arrived and arrived with a big bang. They achieved what they set to, revealing all the mysteries behind that “Great Wall”.

I do wish China tops the medal tally, making them not just the sporting giants of Asia but the world too, which I believe they truly deserve.

- Kavitha Reddy