Beijing 2022 opening ceremony: how will it compare with 2008?

China is preparing to host the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing with the opening ceremony expected to kickstart the event on Friday February 4th.

The host country will be the first in the world to hold both the Winter and Summer Olympics, with just 14 years apart between the two.

With the countdown on for the first Olympic event, there is a large sense of anticipation for the 2022 opening ceremony, especially after the phenomenal display which was put on just a little over a decade ago.

This is an opportunity for the hosting country to demonstrate their power in the world, along with their culture, heritage and history.

The performances which are all put on display, extravagantly use music, song, dance and fireworks to create a captivating spectacle.

A little over 15,000 performers participated which cost over $100 million to produce in 2008, in particular in 2,008 drummers who opened the whole thing.

Each was equipped with a bronze Fou drum, an ancient Chinese instrument, and glowing red drum sticks.

The drummers triumphantly and passionately chanted as they beat the drum in unison with each other to create an eruption of sound around the Chinese national stadium, the Birds Nest.

After their performance they basked in the applause as the Olympics were well under way.

The sense of Chinese history was encapsulated throughout by the director and Chinese globally acclaimed filmmaker Zhang Yimou, who was assisted by Chinese choreographers Zhang Jigang and Chen Weiya.

There were references to the diversity of the country with the 56 ethnic groups, the progress and process of Chinese culture and industrial heritage.

Yimou additionally incorporated the future of China where astronauts gracefully floated around an illuminated globe. 

This encapsulated the motto of the games, ‘One World One Dream’, which shares the ideas of an ideal future for the world, creating this larger community.

This performance demonstrated the exceptional use of light, unity and passion as after every segment the performance proudly embraced the thunderous applause they received. 

However, the ceremony was little short of controversy after a nine year old girl singer lip synced her whole performance, with the original audience coming from a seven year old child instead.

This sparked international outrage and the Chinese government desperate to cover their actions by saying it was best for the public interest. 

All was performed to a captivated audience of 91,000 who created an electric atmosphere in the Olympic stadium.

It will forever be remembered as one of the great Olympic opening ceremonies which ran for over four hours, the second longest opening ceremony to Sydney in 2000.

Consequently, for the upcoming opening games, a simpler Ceremony is expected for the Winter Games with a bold and unprecedented way of lighting the Olympic flame, and the design of the cauldron that is in line with environmental protection and low-carbon emissions.

However, a clear limitation to the upcoming opening ceremony is the impact of the Coronavirus.

Additionally, only 4,000 performers are expected to take part in the ceremony with a shorter running time of just 100 minutes due to the cold weather.

Therefore, a simplified and less extravagant ceremony can be expected.

However, the same director Yimou is expected to take part and lead the ceremony again.

So little can be predicted with the same director considering the previous ceremony was such a spectacle.

This will also take place similarly in the Chinese National Stadium, The Birds Nest, whilst no events will take place here, it is also the venue for the closing ceremony too which will take place on Sunday 20th February.

China isn’t letting any foreign supporters to spectate the games in the stadium, similar to Japan in the 2020 Olympic games to prevent the spread of the virus.

Therefore the atmosphere of the 91,000 people previously, would be unlikely to reach the same heights.

Additionally, the controversy over China’s human rights records have sparked diplomatic boycotts from five countries: USA, Canada, Australia, Lithuania and Kosovo.

Whilst these countries will still send athletes to compete in the 109 events taking part, no ministers or officials who represent the countries will attend the winter games.

This could lead to increased tensions between China and the five nations who will be boycotting the event as well as an unpleasant atmosphere could occur. 

However, there is still a widespread feeling of excitement for the opening ceremony.

The Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) chief executive Yiannis Exarchos has said at a Beijing 2022 technical briefing:

“Obviously I will not say what is in the Opening Ceremony because I don’t want to spoil the experience for any of you.”

“What I can tell you is it is a ceremony which is probably equally impressive as the one in 2008 which we know is one of the most iconic Opening Ceremonies in the history of the Olympic Games.

 “It’s equally impressive, equally moving but completely different and it reflects our times.”

Whilst there is incredible anticipation over what China will produce, they have set exceptionally high standards following the monumental 2008 ceremony.

The summer olympics was nothing more than a revelation with its huge global success, with the winter games expected to reach the same heights.

The opening ceremony will take place on Friday 4th February, with it available to watch from 12PM.

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