Changing China

Giant on the move

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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

Is ‘Lost Boy’ Lomong the right choice to carry U.S. flag?

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Lomong celebratesWhen militiamen swept into their villages on horseback in the early 1990s, shooting, burning and raping as they went, tens of thousands of young Sudanese boys were forced to flee for their lives.

They walked for hundreds of miles, many dying on the way of starvation and illness. Others were eaten by lions. But many survived, ending up in refugee camps in the near-desert plains of northern Kenya.

You can carry the flag, Dirk — just don’t wave it around

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Nowitzki trainsDirk Nowitzki was picked to carry the German flag into the Olympic Stadium’s Opening Ceremonies on Friday but, in a country where carrying the national flag had long fallen out of favour, the NBA all-star basketball player was given a few unsolicited pointers by German Olympic officials on how to do the job.

“They gave me the tip that it’s not going to be like at Carnival and so I shouldn’t wave the flag around too wildly,” said Nowitzki, who added he was deeply honoured to be the country’s flag-bearer. “But I think I’ll still be able to have some fun with the whole thing.”

A little drizzle won’t frazzle Olympic ceremony (Update)

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Fireworks

Olympic organisers are praying that it doesn’t rain on the athletes’ parade at next Friday’s opening ceremony, but a little drizzle might in fact add some fizzle to the lavish show.

“The lighting effects will be more beautiful with a bit of rain,” said Yves Pepin, a French hi-tech wizard, who is a senior member of the creative team for the 3-1/2 hour extravaganza.

Inside the Bird’s Nest

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Workers make final preparations at the National Stadium, also known as the Bird’s Nest, in BeijingPicking my way through chaotic traffic, dust and unmade footpaths on my way to the Bird’s Nest stadium this morning, I had a flashback to the Olympic Stadium in Athens four years ago.

The difference was that when I was stumbling through the debris in Greece, it was just a few days before the Games rather than the 114 days that remain before the Opening Ceremony here in China.

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