Updated noon Friday, Aug. 8:
Jason Simms sends an update after the Olympic opening ceremonies in Beijing:
Here's an opening ceremony update...before it even airs in the US!
Earlier today, a lot of people mistook me for an athlete but that's another story. What the world wants to know about now is the much anticipated opening ceremony. Right now, four billion people are watching the opening ceremony on TV. I am one of them.
Why would I watch it on TV if I'm in
Beijing? Well, I'll tell you. I think I had a pretty typical opening ceremony evening for a Beijinger, actually.
Beijing is a city of 17 million people. The Olympic stadium can't hold more than 100,000 people. That's already 1/170th of the population of the city, but if you factor in all the foreigners at the opening ceremony, it adds up to the fact that pretty much no one actually got tickets. I mean, I met a millionaire today who wasn't going.
So all of these people who couldn't get in, figured they'd go somewhere to watch fireworks. There were three fireworks shows around town, but the English, baby! crew figured we'd go close to the stadium.
But no such luck. Everything is closed off for miles around the stadium. So we got as close as we could in a huge group of people up against a barricade in a park. It reminded me a scene in a zombie movie.
There were a few low fireworks, and the crowd surged. They couldn't see anything, really, and what they could see was pretty common place. Just fractions of fireworks like you see on any new year's. But everyone was taking pictures and shouting. Those were Olympic
fireworks. You don't have to see them, you can feel them.
...for a while. After amazing us with their enthusiasm for something that couldn't be seen (we interviewed two young Chinese people at this time and both of them said that this was the most important day for their country in their lifetimes), people realized they couldn't see anything and left. Maybe there will be a huge fireworks show at the end of the ceremony. I wouldn't know. I'm going to bed in a minute. Watching all the country's teams parade by is only slightly less boring than staring at the skyline in a park. I hope no one thinks I'm a horrible person for saying that, but, c'mon, parades are boring, admit it.
Biking in Beijing, however? Never boring. Nor is Olympic ping pong, I imagine. I'll find find out for sure Wednesday.
[Photos from Beijing Olympics website]