Fireworks, athletes and pageantry
on a scale never before seen in the Olympics opened the
Summer Games in Beijing on Friday as the Asian nation kicked
off the biggest and most scrutinized Games in history.
Chinese President Hu Jintao declared the Olympics officially
open, retired Chinese gymnastics champion Li Ning was
carried through the air to light the Olympic cauldron, and
pyrotechnics exploded throughout Beijing as the crowd of
91,000 at National Stadium cheered wildly.
It was a stunning display from the nation of 1.3 billion
people. Some media observers believe that the Opening
Ceremony may be the most-watched
television event in history.
IOC President Jacques Rogge spoke of China's long-held
ambition to host the Olympics. "Tonight, that dream comes
true," he said.
Rogge mentioned the Sichuan earthquake, saying the world was
moved "by the great courage and solidarity of the Chinese
Emotion was high, as Friday's Opening Ceremony not only
officially started the Summer Games but was a symbolic
expression of a nation seeking its place as a global
The ceremony began at 8 p.m. local time (8 a.m. ET) on the
eighth day of the eighth month of 2008 -- in a country where
eight is the luckiest number.
The formal event was the four-hour official ceremony, which
began at 8 pm local time (12:00 UTC). The result is a strong
positive trend with Chisquare 14616 on 14400 df, for a
p-value of 0.100 and Z = 1.281. The figure is striking, but
perhaps even more impressive is the full 24-hour UTC day,
shown in the second graph below. It has a steep negative
trend followed by an equally steep incline, with the
inflection point just at the beginning of the opening