We walk from the hotel a few blocks to the birds nest stadium, where
the opening festivities will start in just an hour or two.
Lots of military, armored troop carriers, and police. No tanks that
we can see, and all are very strict in manner and directions. I
don’t feel the urge to walk in the grass or trample a daisy, that is
The smog/mist creates a visible wall, as though a few blocks away,
there is no other world. It just, well, stops. There is a sun,
somewhere, but I sure can’t tell you where it is. Very impressive. I
have heard by way of Lindsey’s guide that the authorities have been
seeding the clouds all around the city to insure there is no rain IN
the city. It worked, I guess, because while it was warm and 100%
humidity, there were no raindrops…
The water bubble building is dark on the way in, and will be bright on
the way out, but for now there is a red glow from the very guts of the
birds nest – a fire to come.
Ok, the hot spices and peppers I had at dinner are coming back to
affect me, I fear, and my writing is getting weird.
After the fact:
The opening ceremonies had a lot of great things going for it. But if
you are on the wrong side of the stadium, you don’t see the flame, you
don’t see the fireworks (you do get to hear them). I guess they only
had half the fireworks left from the Olympics – but seriously, exactly
half of the stadium didn’t see aught but the light reflected in the
eyes of the fans on the other side as the fireworks boomed over and
over. The side of the stadium with the Oly and Para brass got an
excellent show from their seats.
The center piece of the show was a round, raised platform that had
flipping panels, one way there are suddenly rice stalks sprouted out
all over, flipped the other way and there are cherry trees in full
blossom. Lots of smoke comes up, which is good because it hides the
half-dozen workers scurrying about to flip the broken panels that
don’t want to go. I watch one guy trip and disappear into a clump of
shrubbery, and then reappear unharmed through the mist on the other
Athens had a huge, 5 or 6 story tree appear in the middle. Beijing
has a grove of 3 foot tall cherry trees.
I did feel a little bit “chinese” after the hour long instructions we
received by the mater dee of the event – there were bags on every one
of the 90,000 seats, with an LED flashlight, a twirlygig LED display,
silk scarve swatches of red, blue, yellow, or green, and of course a
miniature chinese flag and IPC flag. We are told when to wave what,
how to wave it, and when to not wave it. Highly regimented, and
everyone goes along – it’s a good crowd, certainly not like a stadium
crowd in say, Dallas or Chicago. And the LED flashlights make for
some great images in the darkened stadium.
It was a great night, all told. I am certain, after talking with
Lindsey, that the athletes felt welcomed, respected, and honored.
That’s the point, I think. That the crowds of spectators also feel
good is just a bonus – it is the night for the athletes to enjoy,
knowing that come what may, only one will stand on the highest step of
the podium and all the rest will have only the joy of having competed
and hopefully left it all on the field, given of themselves 100% at
the right moment.