'One world, one dream': Beijing Olympics opens

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{image-Olympic opens_08082008.jpg www.oneindia.com}Beijing, Aug 8: The moment China has been working towards for seven years, the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games, is underway.

A heavy smog remains stationary over the Bird's Nest stadium, but nothing can dampen the spirits of those who are lucky enough to have tickets to the opening ceremony. A dazzling display of fireworks and lights started the ceremony, which is expected to last for around three-and-a-half hours. Firecrackers rippled around the rim of the arena, strobe lights flickered and the forest of drumsticks turned a luminous red, flashing bright in the hazy, humid air.

Around 80 world leaders, including US President George W Bush joined 91,000 excited spectators in the stadium for the opening show.

Legendary Chinese gymnast Li Ning will light the cauldron to signify the start of the Games of the 29th Olympion.

Some 14,000 performers and 29,000 fireworks have given the Games a glittering start. Inside the stadium, 2008 Chinese drums sound.

The ceremony caps seven years of work that reshaped Beijing and set the seal on an economic boom that has seen China and its 1.3 billion people become an emerging superpower.

An estimated global audience of at least one billion will watch the ceremony.

Thousands of spectators poured into the stadium hours ahead of the ceremony and were treated to pulsating Chinese dance troops, performing routines with titles like Galloping Horse Dance, Acrobatic Lion Dance and Flowery Drum Dance.

Film director Zhang Yimou, whose work was once banned in China, worked on the show for three years and promises to condense 5,000 years of history into one evening.

Chinese basketball superstar Yao Ming will carry the flag for the host nation, while six-time Olympian James Tomkins will lead out the Australian team.

The Olympics were due to be formally opened at around 11:00pm local time by the president of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge.

The Games run until August 24, with 10,500 athletes from a record 204 nations chasing 302 gold medals in 28 sports.

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