8-8-08 The Magic Moment

Click on picture to view Opening Ceremony fireworks

The much awaited moment has finally arrived. 8-8-08.

Beijing is in its best behaviour. The streets are clean. Traffic is clear. It seems like everyone is holding their breath in order to maintain the current perfection. But one problem remains. It's only a few hours to the opening ceremony and I can't even see the countdown clock. A thick blanket of fog clings on to the city.

For the entire month of August, I will be watching the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube from our 20th floor workspace overlooking the Olympic Green. A week has passed. 16 more days to go. The excitement of working in such a strategic location has slowly waned off.

4 hours and counting to the auspicious hour of 8:08 pm. Helicopters hovered around the stadium vicintiy. All roads around the stadium have been sealed off but the subway will be running 24 hours that day. We were not allowed to leave the office building until the opening ceremony is over. The police have come up to warn us not to go out onto the balcony. Tell your reporters that there will be no live broadcasts from the balcony during this time. Do not open your windows. Anyone sticking their head out of a building that overlooks the stadium is a security threat. Who knows, one of you might be an al-qaeda sniper trying to assassinate Bush.

As fireworks filled the sky that evening, we hurried back and forth between the tv screen and the glass window facing the Bird's Nest. We witnessed history that night. The 2008 Olympics has officially begun. On my way home that night, I have never seen the streets of Beijing so deserted. Our driver laughed as we zoomed along the deserted streets, "The only time that Beijing has ever looked like this was during SARS."

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