Beijing Olympics’ opening ceremony dazzles with midwinter show

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Japanese team is introduced at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics at the Beijing National Stadium on Friday.

BEIJING — Ahead of the Beijing Olympics’ opening ceremony at the National Stadium, known as the Bird’s Nest, a spectacular show was held Friday night, featuring dance performances by children, local residents and others dressed in colorful costumes.

The dazzling lights, sounds and images traced the changing of the seasons and projected the joy of the opening of the sporting event that began Friday, which was the day signifying the arrival of spring on the lunar calendar.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Olympic rings are seen during an event held ahead of the Beijing Games’ opening ceremony on Friday.

Following fireworks and a countdown, the opening ceremony began at 8 p.m. The Chinese national flag was raised, and the Olympic rings appeared. Athletes from Greece, the ancient birthplace of the Games, emerged first to lead the parade of athletes from various countries and regions, who were all wearing masks. About 30 members of the Japanese delegation marched, waving their hands.

As at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Zhang Yimou, a renowned Chinese film director acclaimed for visual presentations of beauty, directed the opening ceremony. Although the scale and duration of the ceremony was reduced because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the clear blue color and snowflake shapes created a magnificent atmosphere.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Women hold up plates with the names of countries and regions participating in the Beijing Olympics on Friday.

In his speech, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said: “The global pandemic is still a reality for all of us. Therefore, our gratitude is even deeper for the Beijing 2022 Organizing Committee, the public authorities and all the Chinese people.

“Thank you for making these Olympic Winter Games happen, and making them happen in a safe way for everyone,” he said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping declared the start of the Beijing Games. About 80 performers, including young people of various nationalities, walked side by side in a performance meant to demonstrate the Games’ motto: “Together for a shared future.” Through the performance, they conveyed a message to the world of the significance of overcoming global challenges, such as racial and ethnic differences, and achieving unity.