Saturday, August 9, 2008
CELEBRATE THE SPIRIT OF THE OLYMPICS
If you, like me and billions of others who sat glued to their TV screens yesterday night to catch the much-awaited opening of the BEIJING OLYMPICS, you would have to agree that it was worth the time.
Touted as the "Beautiful Olympics", it was declared open at the "Bird's Nest" stadium by China's President Hu Jintao in view of at least 90,000 spectators and a worldwide TV audience of up to 4 billion. Chinese gymnast, a 3-gold medalist in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, Li Ning lit the Olympic cauldron and so the extravaganza began at precisely 8:00pm on the auspicious evening of 8/8/2008.
The Chinese has always been known to be lavish on all things that goes on show as
anything less would mean " losing face". So, it is no surprise at all, that an estimated US$40 billion (RM132 billion) was spent to dress up the 29th Olympic Games. Whatever one may have to say about such extravagance, the Chinese have waited for a hundred years for this Day and deserve our applause for putting up a thrilling and spectacular opening ceremony.
The absence of China's icons, the panda and dragon dance, indicate that they have finally emerge from behind the bamboo curtain and assimilate into the 'international'
scene. The combination of modern technology against a backdrop of the traditional, blended beautifully to show the best of what they have created for the years and months of effort. Dazzling colours and pleasing music accompany the art-performances where thousands of Chinese took part in what seem to be "a sea in perpetual motion".
It really was awe-inspiring as everyone of them performed in perfect synch.
The recent tragic earthquake which struck Sichuan in May did not stop the Games' preparations although the whole world did momentarily held their breath for a while. The resilience and fortitude of the Chinese came through loud and clear when they cleared up the debris and continue on with matters at hand.
Shrouded by political controversies with Tibet, many had waited along the sidelines to see how the Chinese will handle the situation. A few world leaders had refrained from giving their support and did not turn up for the opening ceremony. But many did come including the President of USA, George Bush and his wife, Russian PM Vladimir Putin and even French President Nicolas Sarkozy changed his mind and attended.
Personally, I think that the Olympics is not a time to air our differences, no matter how strongly we feel about them. When I watched the competitors from 204 nations paraded pass the grand stand, I only saw beautiful people, all smiling and happy to be together at one place and sharing a common spirit. The slogan "One World, One Dream" truly reflects the feelings of all those who were present in the stadium and those who were watching from near and far. For that perfect moment, I could actually feel the whole world coming into focus on the faces of those participants yesterday night. It is only on such an occasion that we get to see so many different peoples joining hands to celebrate life. And it is a celebration of sorts ... I could feel good and happy energy pervading everyone and spreading like a Whirlpool to even those of us watching the event on our TV screens.
But of course, there are also those who would want to make their sentiments known and in the most 'un-Christian' way. A pastor checked into different hotels in Beijing and painted two rooms with a slogan "Beijing 2008 Our World Our Nightmare" and then disappeared without even paying his hotel bills! Surely there must be a better time and a better way to make yourself heard? Oh well, I guess you have to say he had the guts to do what he did... he could have ended up in the gutter for all we know!
The first Olympiad Games took place in ancient Greece around 776 BC and aimed to unite all people of all nationalities, spiritual and racial beliefs.Even in times of wars and unrests, differences were put aside so that the Games could proceed in a peaceful manner which led to the formation of the OLYMPIC TRUCE.
Since 1896, the OLYMPICS have been taking place every 4 years but, sadly, the ones in 1916, 1940 and 1944 had to be cancelled due to the 1st and 2nd World Wars and not even the ideals of the OLYMPIC TRUCE were able to overrule the cancellations.
The opening ceremony of the BEIJING OLYMPICS has received raving accolades from everyone and I can't wait to see what the organisers have in store when they close the event. I am sure it won't be any less spectacular and magnificent and the Chinese will surpass even themselves then.
We wish all who are in Beijing, participants and spectators alike, the very best and may the time they spend together bring mankind closer in understanding and harmony through the spirit of the Olympic Games.
By the way, our Malaysian contingent was resplendent in their 'gold' baju and I had to suppress myself from giving them a cheer when they appeared in the parade. Way to go, Malaysians...do your very best and win, not only medals, but friends from all over the world!!
Read about the spectacular opening ceremony:
If you missed it, enjoy it all here:
For more on the history of Olympic Games: