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Opening ceremony cool - for some

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James Reynolds | 09:35 UK time, Saturday, 9 August 2008

So, what did you think of it?

I was lucky enough to get into the Olympic Stadium to watch the opening ceremony (or more precisely - the first hour of it, before I had to go and put together a TV piece).

I won't go through the details - it's been pretty well covered everywhere else - but a few observations.

If China's leaders looked cool during the ceremony, it's because they were. I had a quick look at their seats before they came in - hidden under the long wooden table, there were personal air conditioners next to each seat.

I watched everything from high up opposite the home straight. A cameraman from another organisation seemed to be so enthralled that he left his camera position, found a spare seat in the stands, and sat back to enjoy the show.

Footage of the rehearsals of the opening ceremony leaked out a week ago - but China still managed to keep the torch lighting moment a secret right till the end. During the ceremony, we heard rumours that the torch was to be lit by a phoenix (to symbolise the rebirth of China). Then, we got fairly baffling word that the torch was to be lit by a giant panda which had apparently been specially trained for two months.

Finally, of course, the torch bearer turned out to be Li Ning (singled out on this blog a few months ago as one of the 10 Chinese people we should all know about).

Now, the Games are under way - and China has won its first gold medals.


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