China looks for help from above as Olympics are set to open

Society Materials 8 August 2008 09:22 (UTC +04:00)

Chinese organizers hope that the grandfathers of the skies will be smiling on them as they wish for a dry opening ceremony in Beijing to set the tone for what they hope will be spectacular Olympic Games.

Organizers chose Friday because it is the eighth day, of the eighth month in the eighth year of the 21st century and the number eight is considered extremely lucky in China, the dpa reported.

"Today is a big day for Beijing, a big day for China," said Wang Wei, general secretary of the organizing committee BOCOG, as seven years of preparation came to an end.

"We are excited after years of hard work and are looking forward to great Games. Lets celebrate this great moment in Olympic history.

"The Olympics are a good platform ... It is an opportunity that the world can have a better understanding of China. Chinese people can participate in the world."

Speaking just hours before what is expected to a be a spectacular opening ceremony, Wang said that organizers were running through final details and also asked for some understanding from the world if some things don't go as smooth as planned.

" China is a developing country, Beijing is a developing city. We are far from perfect," said Wang.

While the infrastructure appears spotless there remains concern about pollution and politics, with restrictions still imposed on Olympic reporters as far as internet access and freedom of movement is concerned in the Communist country.

Wang struggled badly for words when asked by an American reporter why he couldn't get into a university campus. He eventually said that the guards at the gate may have not known what was going on and insisted that "no one prevents you from going everywhere."

Wang also said in the wake of a terrorist threat from a Turkestan Islamic Party that "we have spared no effort in making safe Games."

Whether the communist leaders will also manage to control the weather remains to be seen.

Showers could occur during the opening ceremony and Wang admitted to ah hoc contingency plans in the case of a major downpour.

The top-secret ceremony will be watched by around one billion people around the world, with 87 dignitaries led by US president George W Bush, Russian PM Vladimir Putin and French President Nicolas Sarkozy in the stadium when Chinese president Hu Jintao opens the Games.

"Hopefully the lucky day brings us luck at at the opening ceremony with the weather," he said.

Looking at the misty morning, Wang expressed his hope that "the grandfathers of the skies" will look kindly upon them and keep the day dry.