In Greek Mythology Mount Olympus is the home of the Gods. Its tenants immortal beings with extraordinary powers. These games were created as one of man’s infinite attempts to surpass his mortal state, to attempt to attain the perfection associated with the Gods. A series of games intending to crown the fastest, strongest, most agile or most accurate. Year after year organizing countries also competed in their endeavor to create the most awe-inducing most fabulously amazing opening ceremonies. At this point I’m going to say that most organizers have had reasonable success in achieving that target, only this year the Chinese have outdone themselves and the world.
My fortune had carried me to Beijing back in 2005 as a young industrial economist aiming to learn from the Chinese legendary industrial experience. Back then the historical city was home to the largest number of cranes I have ever seen. A whole 3 years before the actual games the entire city was in a state of “under-construction”. Their dedication was commendable. At the time I was more interested in the sites, the industrial zones and the culture than in the upcoming games, so I did not pay the work-in-progress much attention. Later that week in another city during a speech a young Chinese official answered one of our questions with “In failing to plan, you are planning to fail!” I didn’t realize how serious he was till this August.
Those of you who witnessed the opening ceremony will forgive me my lengthy introduction. Those of you who missed it, I greatly pity, for you have missed a truly unique ceremony, a feast for the eyes. If any of you are interested, I happen to have the opening on DVD, I decided it was something I wanted to keep on file and watch again for inspiration whenever inspiration is lacking. The stadium itself is a thing of beauty. The sheer amount of money, time and effort that has gone into the opening is immense but completely worth it.
The opening ceremony was a lesson in discipline, dedication and hard work. The countless rows of drummers all perfectly in sync; the poetry in their motion; their expression of personified pride as they banged those drums and the digital artwork that resulted as bangs turned lights on and off to create the countdown. I loved how they moved seamlessly from the documentaries to the action in the pitch, the malleable gigantic plasma screen that opened like a scroll and was used during the majority of the show and the giant plasma screen that covered the top ring of the stadium.
As a documentary on scrolls ends, the mega plasma screen in the middle of the pitch, unfolds from its scroll-like existence. A piece of paper the size of a dance floor emerges and a group of dancers gather atop it. As the unique music plays, the contemporary dancers gracefully cover the dance floor, drawing as they danced, with their body motions and using their hands and feet to leave ink imprints on the dance floor canvas. The choreography of it all being entertaining to watch and complicated to execute, let alone do while creating the image on the canvas.
If that wasn’t enough, after a quick word about the printing press, a makeshift printing press letter set emerges from below the field and the letters start to dynamically move up and down spelling other letters. I was pretty sure this part was mechanical controlled by dynamos and automated by a PC. Just to prove the sceptics like me wrong, at the end of their routine the young Chinese who were moving the individual letters popped up to wave goodbye to the camera.
Later on in the evening there was the marvel of the 3d globe and the runners orbiting it while jogging perpendicular to the globe and practically upside down. Not to forget the grand finale and the lighting of the torch.
I spent the majority of the 4 hours with my bottom jaw in close proximity of our living room floor. Moreover I was perpetually in a state of shock, bewilderment and disbelief. I must have yelled “No they did not!!!” at least 10 times, I was sure I was being conned, I just couldn’t figure out the trick behind the magic trick.
All in all, China was sending a message to the world, “we can and we will”. Watch out people the Chinese are coming! They are extremely well planned, well disciplined and very dedicated workers. I can safely assume that the future is red. I can’t imagine the UK outdoing what the Chinese presented us with this year. Yet I can’t wait to see them try. China has set the standard; let’s see if ceremony organizing will become an Olympic event.