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One Billion People Watched the Opening Ceremony

Yes, that says "billion." With a B. And it's how many people worldwide are estimated to have watched Friday's opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympics. That's 15 percent of the world's population!

Even more baffling numbers: At least 383 million people in China are believed to have watched the ceremony on TV. In the United States, the broadcast drew more than 34 million viewers, the most-watched opening ceremony ever for an Olympics held outside the country. In countries including the UK, Germany, Australia, and Italy, about half of the total potential TV-watching audience tuned in.

I was one in that billion, and I certainly was not disappointed. From the thousands of drummers moving in perfect unison to the unfolding scroll telling the history of China, the dancers who painted with their bodies to the boxes that formed patterns and cities, it was a huge spectacle. I'm not sure I even can pick a favorite part, though the constantly evolving painting (which was later walked over — intentionally — by every athlete who marched in during the Parade of Nations) and the globe with performers running in all directions would definitely be up there.

If you missed the ceremony, you can watch a large portion of the spectacle online or check out a gallery of still photos here. If you were also among the billion who watched, what were your favorite parts?


Join The Conversation
soulight soulight 8 years
Is it sad that I was near tears for most of the performance and the walk of the athletes especialy when I heard the story of the little boy walking with Yao Ming and of the man holding the flag for the US who was one of the lost boys of Sudan. I kind of think it was a bold statement to make to China who supports the Sudanese government and is turning a blind eye to the atrocites in Darfur.
Miaomiaochan Miaomiaochan 8 years
Er...according to the Huffington Post, the girl who stood on stage to sing was lip-syncing; the girl who actually sang was judged "not cute enough" *shrug*. Well, she still deserves major props for her confidence and poise in front of over 90,000 people!
Miaomiaochan Miaomiaochan 8 years
The lighting of the torch wins for me, hands down. Too cool. The drummers and the painting dancers come in second. I also really admired the young girl who sang near the beginning (she's probably the same one who was "flying" a kite during that one segment). She has a wonderful voice. The boy from Sichuan province was so deserving of being honored...he was braver than most of the adults during the disaster recovery. I hear that his schooling is all but guaranteed from now on. We watched the entire thing with a bunch of other expats here, and all of us wondered whether the parts dealing with Chinese history were too obscure for most non-Chinese.
Z-E-R-O Z-E-R-O 8 years
It was amazing. I had mixed feeling about watching but am so glad I did.
Chelle_Belle Chelle_Belle 8 years
the lighting of the torch was impressive, and little Lin Hao (the boy who survived the earthquake and waved the flag alongside Yao Ming) brought a tear to my eye.
californiagirlx7 californiagirlx7 8 years
I didn't watch...I forgot when it was on. I don't usually watch the Olympics except for gymnastics, and ice-skating (during the Winter Olympics).
xlightningboltx xlightningboltx 8 years
The countdown itself was pretty EPIC. How on Earth is London 2012 going to live up to that! Loved it.
suziryder suziryder 8 years
I loved it. I was especially impressed by the tai kwon do, with 2008 performers in perfectly concentric circles. It was amazing when you consider how difficult it is to make one nice circle with your friends or your team! And they were leaping around and jumping all over each other but still coming back to those perfect circles - with no markings on the floor, either... And I looooved those boxes that went up and down and made all those crazy patterns. And I loved the little girl singing as the children dressed in ethnic garb brought the flag in (I think it was a flag, I forget). And I loved the little girl flying with the kite... and the lighting of the torch.. it was all amazing!
ang1885 ang1885 8 years
The lighting of the torch was amazing! Nobody knew how they would finish the ceremony which added to the surprise. It was so beautiful, it made me glad to have DVR.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
you know, i had zero intention of watching it or any of the games cause i think that it's a bit over done these days - no one cares about the worlds that happen each year, but i was on vacation with my mom and tuned in and was pleasantly surprised. i actually liked the story about the guy who choreographed the whole thing too - that was a nice story to hear about. i think that with so much going on these days in china and around the world - we are a bit more open to watching this on TV or paying attention to things that happen on the world's stage.
intensebandgeek intensebandgeek 8 years
I can't pick a favorite! It was all beautifully done.
Anniina Anniina 8 years
Very well done! The best opening so far
piper23 piper23 8 years
The scroll part was beautiful - how in the world did they do that?! I enjoyed every minute of it.
Shopaholichunny Shopaholichunny 8 years
I watched this at my Aunt's house at a family party and we were all in awe of the whole ceremony! China stepped up their game! Everything was perfect and in sych. It was AMAZING! :)
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