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Beijing was the Games of records and superlatives. The Opening Ceremony was unforgettable; the athletes’ achievements were astonishing, the organisation was excellent; the venues breathtaking and the anti-doping tests were stricter. Several hundred million watched worldwide on TV as more than 40 world records and over 130 Olympic records were broken.
The National Stadium, nick-named the “Bird’s Nest”, and the National Swimming Centre, known as the “Water Cube”, were both stunning symbols of the new Beijing. In cycling, the road race followed the Great Wall and passed in front of the “Forbidden City” - two symbols of the thousand-year-old history of the city.
A record 204 National Olympic Committees took part in the Games. Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Mauritius and Togo all experienced podium finishes for the first time. However Mongolia and Panama managed to go one better with their athletes bringing home their country’s first Olympic gold.
There were many memorable champions but it was Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt who stole the headlines. Phenomenal US swimmer Michael Phelps bettered Mark Spitz’s achievement at the 1972 Munich Games by claiming eight swimming golds and the incredible Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt broke both the 100m and 200m world records and claimed a third gold and record with the Jamaican 4 x 100m relay team.
Athletes: 10,942 (4,637 women, 6,305 men)
Volunteers: 100,000 (70,000 Olympic Games, 30,000 Paralympic Games)
Media: 24,562 accredited media representing 159 countries
Dutchman Maarten Van Der Weijden won the men’s 10km marathon, while in the women’s race, the title went to Russia’s Larisa Ilchenko.
In BMX – short for Bicycle Moto Cross – it was France’s Anne-Caroline Chausson who became the first Olympic champion. For the men, this honour went to Latvia’s Maris Strombergs.
Two hundred and four National Olympic Committees (NOCs) took part in the Beijing Olympic Games - a record! Some 87 of them celebrated their medal-winning athletes. For some NOCs, it was the first time that one of their representatives had won a medal or was crowned Olympic champion: Tajikistan won its first medals thanks to Rasul Boqiev in the judo and Yusup Abdusalomov in the wrestling; Afghanistan stepped up on to the podium thanks to Rohullah Nikpai in taekwondo; Badar-Uugan Enkhbat in boxing and Tuvshinbayar Naidan in judo were the first athletes from Mongolia to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games; just like Bahrain with Rachid Ramzy in athletics. For the African continent, Bruno Julie in boxing and Benjamin Boukpeti in canoe/kayak offered Mauritius and Togo respectively their first Olympic medals, while Panama took its first gold medal in athletics.
The women’s 800m record had been held by Janet Evans (USA) for almost 20 years. But in Beijing, Great Britain’s Rebecca Adlington smashed this record, which had been set in 1989 when she was only six months old. In 2008, in the 800m final, Rebecca Adlington improved on the previous time by more than two seconds, with a new time of 8:14.10. She took the gold medal in the 800m and in the 400m, and became the first British gold medallist in women’s swimming since 1960.
In Beijing, almost 50 years separated the oldest from the youngest athlete: Japanese horse rider Hiroshi Hoketsu took part in his third Olympic Games at the age of 67, whilst Cameroon swimmer, Antoinette Joyce Guedia Mouafo participated in the Games for the first time at the tender age of 12.
With his ninth participation in the Games and at the age of 61, Canada’s Ian Millar won his first medal in the team jumping event. At 33, and with her fifth participation in the Games, Germany’s Oxsana Chusovitina won the silver medal in artistic gymnastics, while US swimmer Dara Torres took three silver medals at the age of 41.
The National Stadium, re-named the “Bird’s Nest”, and the National Swimming Centre, known as the “Water Cube”, were avant-garde models of sports architecture and the symbols of the new Beijing.
In cycling, for the road race, the organisers chose to follow the Great Wall and pass in front of the “Forbidden City” - two symbols of the thousand-year-old history of the city.
Thirty-seven venues, six of which were outside Beijing, hosted the competitions: namely Hong Kong for the equestrian events and Qingdao for the sailing; and Tianjin, Shanghai, Qinhuangdao and Shenyang for the football matches. Six of the sports facilities located on the city’s university campuses will be used by students after the Games.
Beijing, 8 August, 2008, Opening Ceremony of the Games of the XXIXe Olympiad. The last runner of the Olympic Torch relay Li Ning prepares to light the Olympic cauldron.
Official opening of the Games by:
President of the People's Republic of China Hu Jintao
Lighting the Olympic Flame by:
Li Ning (artistic gymnastics)
Olympic Oath by:
Zhang Yining (table tennis)
Official Oath by:
Huang Liping (gymnastics)
The official emblem of Beijing 2008 entitled "Chinese Seal-Dancing Beijing" cleverly combines the Chinese seal and the art of calligraphy with sporting features, transforming the elements into a human figure running forward and embracing triumph. The figure resembles the Chinese character "Jing", which stands for the name of the host city and represents a particularly significant Chinese style. The artwork embodies four messages: * Chinese culture, * the color of red China * Beijing welcomes friends from all over the world * to challenge the extreme and achieve the perfect and promote the Olympic motto of "Citius, Altius, Fortius (Faster, Higher, Stronger).
For the first time jade is used for the Beijing Olympic medals. The medals have been designed with inspiration coming from "bi", China's ancient jade piece inscribed with a dragon pattern. The medals symbolise nobility and virtue and are the embodiment of traditional Chinese values of ethics and honour, emitting a strong Chinese flavour. The winners’ medal is made of gold weighing not less than six grammes each. The medal for the runner-up is made of pure silver. Noble and elegant, the medals are a blending of traditional Chinese culture and Olympism. On their obverse side, the medals reflect the Greek character of the Olympic Games: the goddess of victory Nike pictured in the Panathinaikos Stadium. While on their reverse side, the medals are inlaid with jade with the Beijing Games emblem engraved in the metal centrepiece. The design inspiration of the medal hook derives from jade "huang", a ceremonial jade piece decorated with a double dragon pattern and "Pu", the reed mat pattern.
Each name rhymes by repeating the same syllable: a traditional Chinese way of showing affection to children. Linking the five names forms the sentence “Welcome to Beijing” (Bei Jing Huan Ying Nin). The mascots form the “Fuwa”, which translates as “good-luck dolls”.
Number of torchbearers: 21 800 including 630 in Greece
Total distance: 137 000 km including 1 528 in Greece and 97 000 in continental China
Countries crossed: Almaty, Istanbul, St. Petersburg, London, Paris, San Francisco, Buenos Aires, Dar es Salaam, Muscat, Islamabad, New Delhi, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Canberra, Nagano, Seoul, Pyongyang, Ho Chi Minh City, Macao. The 2008 Olympic Flame also reached the summit of Mount Everest
The “Official Report of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games” was published in English as a four-volume set. A French version exists, but this was published only in electronic form. The set consists of three printed volumes (Bid documents and analysis; Ceremonies and competitions; Preparation for the Games) and a multimedia volume, which had now become standard. This contained a CD-ROM and four DVDs, featuring the results, films of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and key documents.