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Fireworks night

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James Reynolds | 17:12 UK time, Saturday, 2 August 2008

This evening I joined thousands of people outside the Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium. We all jammed together by the side of the road to watch another rehearsal of the fireworks for the opening ceremony.

Many in the crowd stood in a row with hugely expensive cameras and tripods - looking like they were about to photograph an eclipse or a passing film star (if there are any protests during the Olympics you can guarantee that they will be caught on camera by at least several hundred people.)

At eight in the evening the fireworks exploded over the stadium. Slightly terrifyingly, they exploded not far from two police helicopters circling overhead - no doubt giving the pilots the best view of the night.

The fireworks carried on in bursts for an hour or so. But the people in the crowd told us they wanted much, much more. When you've promised to put on the greatest show on earth, your people will expect to be dazzled - even during a rehearsal.

In the odd break between helicopters and fireworks we got to hear the sound of crickets chirping. It's a sound that always makes me think of the Olympics. In the heart-in-your-mouth moments just before the final of the men's 100m in the Athens 2004 Games, the tens of thousands of spectators in the stadium (including me) went so quiet that you could suddenly hear the crickets chirping from the trees outside - one of the most spine-tingling moments of that entire Games. I imagine we'll hear the same sound in Beijing if/when China's Liu Xiang settles into his blocks for the men's 110m hurdles final.

PS. thanks for your Olympic predictions. Once the Games are over, I'll have a look back and see who got it right.

Comments

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  • 1. At 6:14pm on 02 Aug 2008, beijing_2008 wrote:

    Thanks for sharing this experience with us James.

    However, in relation to the part about photography and protesting, is it too much to ask for you not to inject political serum in one of your blog entries?

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  • 2. At 7:21pm on 02 Aug 2008, xbang2003 wrote:

    I know it is not easy for you to understand our chinese at moment. But you will in four years when it happens in your country. and although I have kept arguing with BBC since this March, I hope I will be able to be in the UK and enjoy your celebrities then

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  • 3. At 8:08pm on 02 Aug 2008, churchgore wrote:

    My friends who live in apartments near the Bird Nest tell me that they could not go to sleep because of the noise. Perhaps, BBC can report this new *violation of human rights* in Commy China.

    I spend 20 years in China; then 20 years in the US. China actually treats her people BETTER than the West. Chinese people enjoy BETTER freedom of thoughts and freedom of religion. China is MORE open than the West. China is never truly communistic. At the height of the Culture Revolution, youths easily over-threw their commy leaders. Today, Chinese companies negotiate tax with government. I notice many Eastern Europeans have significant different views. Eastern Europe is totally different from China.

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  • 4. At 8:48pm on 02 Aug 2008, olivia30 wrote:

    ????????????,?????????,????????,????????,???????????
    ???????????,???
    thank you !

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  • 5. At 9:28pm on 02 Aug 2008, hizento wrote:

    "if there are any protests during the Olympics you can guarantee that they will be caught on camera by at least several hundred people".

    Why is it that you are so interested in protests? I am pretty sure whatever the Chinese do it does not come close to what USA and Britain had done over the last 200 years and that include what they did to Iraq and Afghanistan. You guysin the West in reality cares little about ordinary Chinese people's human rights when back home in your own country your own government opresses human rights so how about calling for protests in your own country?
    You know people who lives in glass houses shouldnt throwing stones!!!!

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  • 6. At 9:31pm on 02 Aug 2008, all2humanuk wrote:

    The sound in the trees in Athens is not crickets. They're Cicadas.

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  • 7. At 11:24pm on 02 Aug 2008, flibblesan wrote:

    Oh boo, I missed that! I should have gone to the stadium to see the fireworks.

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  • 8. At 00:29am on 03 Aug 2008, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    James,

    Thanks for the offered to let us, know who's predictions was close.

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  • 9. At 00:30am on 03 Aug 2008, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    I hope that the fireworks in Beijing, are all colourful and interesting !

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  • 10. At 01:33am on 03 Aug 2008, ricecake202 wrote:

    I love you lovely ending. Crickets are to dare to sings after such loud noise from the fireworks and cheers! How dramatic and sentimental at the same time. It in itself is a great interesting dramatic such contrast!

    I have to turn the radio off, I have to shut off the TV after my sensory tolerance go over the limit. I want to rest and sleep peaceful while listen to the crickets' singing. Live is lovely listen to the crickets.

    There's time for silence, time for festivity, time to reflect, time to work, time to celebrity. A nation is indeed like a person. Each person in a nation is equivalent to a single cell in a person's body. Harmony cooperation are must in oder to live healthy and well. When cells and body parts in a person's body all doing their own things disagreeing with each other for some time, it's call disorder. Than It turns into a form of fatal disease. Then if you don't treat it or operate it, you'll die. It's all common sense. Chaos disorders instability kill you before you can enjoy your freedom.

    I'm one of those do not want unlimited freedom. I prefer to be free to live a simple peaceful comfortable life of co- existing.

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  • 11. At 01:36am on 03 Aug 2008, FantasySP wrote:

    It is so funny~

    Why the so-call just and adiaphorous BBC pressmen get used to put their personal unintelligible feeling in the reports??

    It is only a rehearsal of the fireworks for the opening ceremony, ok? Why the author are so interested in connecting the protestion issues with such an ordinary celebration?

    Please note that the whole world is watching China, so many websites offer wonderful and exciting pictures about the firework rehearsals. AND, what did you offer to the public?

    When a guy's brain is full of the inharmonious elements and tries every effort to show some simple things with the highly irrelevant concepts. I can image how disgusting is this kind of articles..

    I hope that James can try to know more about China, talk to people really and truly. I have read a lot about your reports of China, however, I am sure to say you haven't known enough about China. If you want to tell me you have worked in China for 10 years, I would say:"sorry mate, you are living in your own world.."

    Try to be a part of the country, not suppose that you are an outlier. I look forward to seeing more objective and justic report from you. Cheers.

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  • 12. At 01:41am on 03 Aug 2008, hughye wrote:

    So where is the pic or the video, please?

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  • 13. At 06:19am on 03 Aug 2008, buaadallas wrote:

    Hi, James,
    You are so lucky that your are BBC journalist in China, I believe that if you live in China for some time longer, you will love this country and its people(I am not mean the government).
    And I suggest that you should seperate the China and Chinese gov. It's totally different. Report more news without politics, but introduce the hospital and kind Chinese people and splendid Chinese culture to the people all over the world.

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  • 14. At 08:02am on 03 Aug 2008, thisisacryforhelp wrote:

    I still can't have the access to the BBC Sport page(www.bbc.co.uk/sport).

    You can now log onto the previously blocked BBC News and BBC Chinese but not the above one.

    Can anyone talk to the people's republic of censorship to let the Olympics be a sporting event and unblock the page, please?

    PS: I should've gone to see the fireworks but I am scared of people carrying expensive cameras and shooting fireworks.

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  • 15. At 6:39pm on 03 Aug 2008, dyhbruce wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 16. At 8:14pm on 03 Aug 2008, churchgore wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 17. At 02:34am on 04 Aug 2008, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    @ the time of i am writing this....it is only a week left before the opening ceremonies of the olympics in beijing....

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  • 18. At 05:11am on 04 Aug 2008, tinyFromchina wrote:

    Did you enjoy the fireworks, James?

    Please let me know, ok?

    Yes or No.

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  • 19. At 12:42pm on 04 Aug 2008, KDLarsen wrote:

    Interesting to note that the crowd seemed a bit disappointed (for the lack of a better word) at the fireworks display. It certainly highlights the fact the the Chinese authorities have placed a very large amount of public pride into making it the greatest show on earth - and that they have not been shy about calling it that.

    Which makes me wonder what the possible public backlash will be, if the authorities fail to deliver? Or if the Chinese competitors fail to deliver?

    @ comment nr. 11:
    This is a blog, not a news report. There's a relatively large difference, especially in terms of the author putting his own view of things.

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  • 20. At 1:30pm on 04 Aug 2008, elduderino10 wrote:

    hizento wrote: "You guysin the West in reality cares little about ordinary Chinese people's human rights when back home in your own country your own government opresses human rights so how about calling for protests in your own country?"

    Well if you knew much about the West then you'd know that actually there are frequent protests in the West, by Western citizens, about all human rights abuses by Western govts. In particular, there were huge protests in the UK about the Iraq war. Perhaps you should stop hypocritically moaning about how little the West understands China and try to understand the West.

    FantasySP wrote: "Why the so-call just and adiaphorous BBC pressmen get used to put their personal unintelligible feeling in the reports??"

    Uh... this is what's called a "blog". The blogger is meant to give their personal views. It's a different medium from the news headlines.

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  • 21. At 2:58pm on 04 Aug 2008, RL wrote:


    "if there are any protests during the Olympics you can guarantee that they will be caught on camera by at least several hundred people".

    Very mean, malicious of your report. James

    If you highly just interested in protests, sit in front of the UK Parliament House of Commons, you will find a common ground for it.

    Enjoy the way how Chinese live in, learn Tai-chi, drink green tea and listen to Bird sings in the Park. Visit old temples as well as make good friends with ordinary Beijing people.

    looking for your internal peace.

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  • 22. At 5:54pm on 04 Aug 2008, churchgore wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 23. At 7:18pm on 06 Aug 2008, churchgore wrote:

    Show case 1 -- democracy in Kenya, you forget how many people are slaughtered in Kenya. The blood creates rivers. The stinky bodies attract wild animals. Yes, democracy kills. It is not indirect poverty or chaos that kills people. Democracy leads to direct massacres. The elected Kenya PM is butchered. This is what the West wants to see. The dumbness of Africans are partially to blame. They really think they can become Europe by "voting". LMAO.

    Show case 2 - Catholic democracy - East Timor army disintegrated into warring factions. The government collapsed amid widespread looting, arson, gang warfare. UN appointed Nobel winning president was gunned down, followed by the slaying of popular rebel commander and his bodyguard by Australian troops.

    "Our leaders always fight" said a street vendor who has lived with her four children in a tent after machete-wielding gangs drove them from their home.

    It is your childish indoctrination to believe your politicians answerable to the people. Voting gives you absolutely nothing. Democracy is a childish joke. Politicians are not responsible for the people. They are funded by CEOs, mafias and religion. They cannot care any less about ordinary people. The politicians simply lie. You are "voting" for a shade. You have no clue about the money and power play behind the scene.

    Please stop forcing democracy onto China. Thanks.

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