Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics opening ceremony: Live updates

Zhang Yimou runs with the torch during the 2022 Olympic Torch Relay Festival at Olympic Forest Park in Beijing, on February 2.
Zhang Yimou runs with the torch during the 2022 Olympic Torch Relay at the Olympic Forest Park in Beijing, on February 2. (Jia Haocheng / Xinhua / Getty Images)

The opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics by Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou is, for many, a fond memory of China’s first Olympics.

In a show of colour, composition and fireworks, the acclaimed director announced the country’s arrival on the world stage in dramatic fashion, complete with performers “drawing” on LED scrolls, a song praising China’s space program, and 2008 drummers chant and play in unison.

The production sets a high bar for future directors – including him – because nearly 14 years later, Zhang returns to oversee the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Winter Olympics.

“The burden is very heavy,” he told State news agency Xinhua in an interview last month reflected on pressure to be the first to direct both the Summer and Winter Olympics ceremonies.

But much has changed – in China and around the world – since 2008.

Epidemic: For a, Strict restrictions of Covid-19 caused considerable logistical difficulties. While in 2008, Zhang was able to call on about 15,000 performers during the Opening Ceremony, this year’s cast is only one-fifth of that number. The show is also expected to be significantly shorter, dropping from four hours to just over an hour and a half, although this is partly due to the cold weather and safety concerns.

China on the world stage: Perhaps more importantly, however, China’s view of the world’s place has also undergone a profound change over the years.

Zhang told Xinhua: “In 2008, the Olympics were a brilliant stage and an opportunity for our country to express itself. “In fact, there are many pages in our 5,000-year history that we would like to show the world. Our civilization, our history and how we got to where we are today.

“It’s different now. China’s position in the world, the image of the Chinese people, and the rise of our national status, things are completely different now.”

Opening ceremony: What this means for the themes and designs of the 2022 ceremonies remains to be seen. Details of the proceedings are yet to be closely wrapped, but Zhang hinted that the cauldron lighting could be more spectacular than 2008, which saw former gymnast Li Ning go around. around the stadium Bird’s nest is suspended on a high wire.

“It will be unprecedented in the more than 100-year history of the Olympic Games,” Zhang said, adding: “I am very nervous. I think it’s totally creative and people will be amazed.”

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