Changing China

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The big day arrives: Beijing abuzz ahead of Games opening

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Dress rehearsalThe big day has finally arrived. Seven years on from the decision to award Beijing the 2008 Summer Olympics the Games are set to begin with a “big bang” at the opening ceremony at the Bird’s Nest.

I’ve only been in Beijing a week so I thought I’d ask a couple of colleagues who live here in the Chinese capital to tell us how they feel now the waiting is (almost) over.

Nick Mulvenney is a sports correspondent who moved to China two-and-a-half years ago to help cover the whole Olympic build-up. Lindsay Beck is a general news corro who was here when China was awarded the Games and has been back living here for four years. Click on the video below.

PHOTO: Performers wait before the last rehearsal for the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, August 5, 2008. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo

Beijing believer: a sideways look at the Games

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The MPCMost blogs and reporter diaries from the Olympics start the same way. Your correspondent arrives in Beijing, jet-lagged but wide-eyed nonetheless, and waxes grateful about the helpful volunteers at the airport, the comfy shuttle bus to the media village and the smiling welcome from just about everyone, everywhere. And hey – even the smog isn’t as bad as everyone makes out.

Disillusion sets in a few days later, as they find access to athletes is incredibly hard to come by, you still can’t sleep properly and walking 400 metres in the city is enough to leave you with stinging eyes, a soaking shirt and an irritating cough. Damn that smog!

Beijing Games: picture of the day

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Picture of the day

Russell Boyce writes: Reuters staff photographer Darren Whiteside has captured a moment of quiet and tense preparation at the rowing venue. Silhouetting the Russian women’s Quadruple Sculls team by exposing for the hazy highlights, most of the colour is removed from the image.

By using the light in this way a sense of the tension starting to rise is created as rowlocks are tightened, boats polished and blades checked and double checked.

Beijing Games: picture of the day

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Yao Ming holds the Olympic torch aloft

Chinese basketball player Yao Ming (C) holds the Olympic torch during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games torch relay in Beijing August 6, 2008. REUTERS/Joe Chan (CHINA)

Russell Boyce writes: Yao Ming enters Tiananmen Square holding the Olympic torch high in the air in front of the portrait of Chairman Mao. The calm in the faces of Yao and Mao belies the chaos that surrounds them, as the flame escorts push back the assembled media and a crush of spectators.

Messi likely to miss Olympics

News just out that the Court of Arbitration for Sport has ruled in favour of Barcelona and decided they will not have to release Argentine forward Lionel Messi for the Olympics.

Assuming Barcelona do not have a change of heart, it means one of the biggest-name athletes at the Games will not be taking part. Brazilians Diego and Rafinha, of Werder Bremen and Schalke 04, will now also presumably be going home.

I’m running the 100m? If you insist…

There was a classic moment at a media conference with 100 metres world record holder Usain Bolt today. Bolt’s coach told Reuters last week that the Jamaican would run the 100m as well as the 200m but he seemed unaware of the fact on Tuesday.

“I still have to decide,” he said, before being informed of his coach’s comment.

Bush heads to Beijing for Olympics opening ceremony — your views

U.S President George W. Bush is on his way to Beijing to attend the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games, much to the pleasure of the Chinese government, but not everyone believes he and other heads of government should be here.

Some politicians and human rights groups urged Bush to boycott the opening ceremony in protest at China’s crackdown in Tibet, and what they see as the lack of progress on broadening domestic freedoms. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has also taken a lot of heat for his decision to attend the opening of the Olympics as holder of the EU presidency.

Beijing Games: picture of the day

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Bolt sits, arms stretched, in front of the Bird’s Nest

Russell Boyce writes: Great contacts and hard work led to Reuters News Pictures photographer Hans Deryk getting exclusive pictures of Usain Bolt, the 100m world record holder at the National Stadium.

The simple picture of Bolt posing with the specially made gold running shoes that he will wear when he aims for Olympic gold are a perfect blend of a sports news value with timing and place. After all, how much better could it get: the fastest man, being seen for the first time at the venue with is new running shoes.

Smogwatch, August 5

With just three days to go before the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games, the Bird’s Nest National Stadium was visible under hazy skies.

Earlier this week, the iconic stadium was not visible due to smog blanketing Beijing, but authorities have been shutting factories and removing cars from the road in a bid to clean the air.

Radcliffe ready to run Beijing marathon

There was good news for Britain on Monday as Paula Radcliffe talked up her chances of being fit enough to run the marathon at the Beijing Games.

“I’m racing unless my leg breaks down,” Radcliffe, 34, told reporters four days before the start of the Olympics and 13 days before the women’s race on August 17. 

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