Last Sunday, we attended the Beijing Olympic Closing Ceremony. We left early, expecting a huge crowd: the previous days, we had attended a couple of volleyball games and track and field, and getting to the Olympic Green was… challenging.
First of all, subway station are now equipped with X-ray machines and all bags have to be checked. This is quick though and I haven’t seen any bag been searched. Things were getting a bit more complicated at the entry of the line 8, the three-stops line which goes to the Olympic Sport Center, the Green, and the Olympic Forest. To take this line, we first had to get off of the transfer station at Beitucheng, show we had ticket for an Olympic event that day and be searched. That meant going outside and crossing a huge crowd of scalpers, tourists and vendors, then taking the actual line 8 to reach the Green. Not to mention that at the end of the event, roughly 100,000 people leaving at the same time just doesn’t work well in the subway.
But the day of the closing ceremony, the security was a bit tighter and those without tickets couldn’t hang out outside of the line 8 station. We just passed a quick security check and we were in. The only difference with the previous days was the choppers flying around the stadium and the army trying to secure the area for the fireworks later that night.
Everybody was so excited. People were taking pictures, kids were running around, a few were trying to buy bottles of cold water and we were all marching up to the stadium, sweaty but happy. Inside the stadium we were given a goodie bag as a souvenir, but also to participate in the event: we had a program, an olympic torch replica, a small drum, wristbands, a fan, water etc. The ceremony started soon after we found our seats. The stadium was packed: 91,000 spectators! It was hot, like Beijing hot in the summer, and I could see steam coming out of the stadium.
In a word, the ceremony was a lot of fun. The protocol was respected: there were flags bearers, a lot of athletes, speeches from official such as Jacques Rogges and Liu Qi, the Olympic flag was presented to the mayor of London etc. But the performances in between were just awesome. The lights, the choreography (by Zhang Zhimou)… Everything was well-organized but spontaneous and fun at the same time. Jimmy Page (of Led Zeppelin) performed “Whole Lotta Love” while David Beckam kicked a few footballs in the crowd. The athletes, probably tired of sitting around on the field, started to run around. Jackie Chan sung (yeah, I know…). We all freaked out when we heard loud explosions, only to realize that was the fireworks around the stadium that, of course, we couldn’t see (being in the stadium, it felt like they were setting us on fire). Here are a few pictures I took: