Only six months aft-er the close of the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, the 2022 Beijing Winter Games will take to the stage, and the world is set to greet its official launch tomorrow (February 4) at the Nat-ional Stadium in Beijing. Russian President Vladimir Putin and more than 30 heads of state, government, royal families and international organizations will be at the opening ceremony to witness the world’s sporting gala party.
Nicknamed the Bird’s Nest, the 91,000-seat giant stadium jointly designed by architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron from Basel-based architecture team Herzog & de Meuron, which also held the opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics, has become one of the landmark buildings and tourist hot spots in the country. It takes its place along other historic and symbolic landmarks in China like the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. Once again, viewed by tens of millions around the world, the sacred Olympic Torch will be lit at the flagship venue tomorrow.
Chinese people prefer to call the stadium the Bird’s Nest, which, in Chinese culture, is a metaphor for “family”, “peaceful coexistence” and “benevolence”. It will become the only stadium in the world to host both summer and winter Olympic Games ceremonies. Peace, harmony and global unity to defeat difficulties like the pandemic will be expounded throughout the opening ceremony, and the closing ceremony two weeks later, too.
The stadium’s main structure is an enormous saddle-shaped elliptic steel structure weighing 42,000 tons. The stadium garnered attention not only for its bewildering architecture but also for its sustainable design that incorporates natural ventilation and maximizes use of day-lighting. Rainwater harvesting techniques and solar photovoltaic power generation are among other notable features.
The opening ceremony, again, to be directed by renowned Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou, will be another visual feast for billions of people around the world, who “desperately” need a respite or relaxation following the two-year-long fatigue and depression caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
To maintain Covid-19 prevention and control, there won’t be a high density of spectators in the Bird’s Nest during the opening ceremony, but more than 1 billion Chinese people will view the grand opening before home television sets, tablets and mobile phone screens on February 4 – the fourth day of the lunar Year of the Tiger. Like others abroad,1.4 billion Chinese people also need a great sporting event like the Winter Games to enliven and fire them up.
Beijing has pledged to spare no effort to present a great Winter Olympics to the world. The opening ceremony will be a window to judge the city’s readiness as the world now turns its eye toward the city. Though few details about the ceremony have been revealed to date, Zhang Yimou is deemed a master director of ingenuity and creativity. A broad list of modern technologies, including 5G-enabled AR and VR, cloud, robotics, artificial intelligence and even metaverse are at his disposal.
The artistic part of the ceremony will be the most intriguing content for onlookers. Maybe the 2008 summer games opening ceremony, directed by Zhang, could provide a hint of some of the style and technique we can expect for the upcoming displays.
The 2008 ceremony, lasting more than four hours and attracting a huge worldwide TV audience, was lauded by spectators and global media as spectacular and spellbinding, and by many accounts “the greatest ever in the history of Olympics”.
Through slides of historic scroll paintings, bamboo books, opera dancers and terracotta soldiers, the 5000-year-long Chinese civilization was brought vividly to life. The final ascent to the torch featured Olympic gymnast Li Ning, who appeared to run through air around the membrane of the giant stadium. Famed Chinese singer Liu Huan and British singer Sarah Brightman stood on the central platform and sang the 2008 Olympic theme song: “You and Me”. With peach blossoms as the backdrop, big banners sprouted out in both Chinese and English characters, beaming “All men are brothers within the Four Seas,” and, “Isn’t it great to have friends coming from afar?”
Thousands of years ago, the Chinese carved the character “He”, which means harmony and peace, on tortoise shells, and, the Great Sage Confucius expounded the philosophical concept of “harmony without uniformity”.
Yes, Chinese people have long been tethered to mutually beneficial cooperation, win-win, inclusive development and common prosperity. Just as these Beijing games will demonstrate, we aspire to build a world where all civilizations coexist harmoniously and accommodate each other.
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