The 2008 Summer Olympic Games, officially known as the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, is a major international multi-sport event which is being celebrated in Beijing, People's Republic of China, from August 8 (with football starting on August 6) to August 24, 2008 and followed by the 2008 Summer Paralympics from September 6 to September 17. 10,500 athletes are expected to compete in 302 events in 28 sports, one event more than was on the schedule of the 2004 games. The 2008 Beijing Olympics will also mark the third time that Olympic events will have been held in the territories of two different National Olympic Committees (NOC), with the equestrian events to be held in Hong Kong.
The Olympic games were awarded to Beijing after an exhaustive ballot of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on July 13, 2001. The official logo of the games, titled "Dancing Beijing," features a stylised calligraphic character jīng (京, meaning capital), referencing the host city. The mascots of Beijing 2008 are the five Fuwa, each representing both a colour of the Olympic rings and a symbol of Chinese culture. The Olympic slogan, One World, One Dream, calls upon the world to unite in the Olympic spirit. Several new NOCs have also been recognised by the IOC.
The Chinese government has promoted the games to highlight China's emergence on the world stage and has invested heavily in new facilities and transportation systems. A total of 37 venues will be used to host the events including 12 newly constructed venues. Earlier in 2007, former IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch had said that he believes that the Beijing games will be "the best in Olympic history," and current president Jacques Rogge asserts that the IOC has "absolutely no regrets" in choosing Beijing to host the 2008 games.
204 NOCs (See below)
302 in 28 sports
Nations participating 204 NOCs (See below)
Athletes participating 11,028 
Events 302 in 28 sports
Opening ceremony August 8
List of participating NOCs
American Samoa (4)
Antigua and Barbuda
Bosnia and Herzegovina (5)
British Virgin Islands (2)
Burkina Faso (4)
Cape Verde (3)
Cayman Islands (3)
Central African Republic (3)
Chinese Taipei (80)
DR Congo (2)
Cook Islands (4)
Costa Rica (6)
Czech Republic (130)
Dominican Republic (23)
El Salvador (11)
Equatorial Guinea (3)
FS Micronesia (1)
FYR Macedonia (7)
Great Britain (312)
Hong Kong, China (34)
North Korea (63)
South Korea (267)
Marshall Islands (5)
Netherlands Antilles (3)
New Zealand (182)
Papua New Guinea (7)
Puerto Rico (22)
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
São Tomé and Príncipe (3)
San Marino (4)
Saudi Arabia (16)
Sierra Leone (2)
Solomon Islands (3)
South Africa (136)
Sri Lanka (8)
Trinidad and Tobago (28)
United Arab Emirates (5)
United States (595)
Virgin Islands (5)
Games get off to a cracking start
BEIJING: “Isn’t it a real joy to have friends from afar," Confucius had asked hundreds of years ago.
The Chinese opened their arms, with all their hearts, combining light, colour, music and dance, with modern technology, to provide a spectacular opening, befitting the country’s 5000 years of civilisation, to welcome athletes from 204 countries, for the 29th Olympic Games.
It was 8 p.m. when fireworks lit up the sky, in a change from tradition to signal the start of the opening ceremony. In fact, fireworks enlivened the proceedings at every opportunity, rather than at the end alone, to mark the beginning of the celebration.
It was an entertainment meant for an estimated four billion television viewers around the world, and the Chinese rose to the occasion in superb fashion, to reassure the world that they were ready to host the ‘Ultimate Games’.
The manner in which the ‘lighted’ acrobats, suspended mid-air, lifted the Olympic ring, set the tone for a vibrant evening that had already entertained the 91,000 capacity audience to a grand Chinese cultural show during the prelude.
The artistic director of the Opening Ceremony, Zhang Yimou, orchestrated 14,000 performers to light up an unforgettable evening.
Every event lit up the show as every performer was invariably colourfully ‘lighted’, to paint unforgettable pictures on the mosaic. Gutsy performance
Easily, the most gutsy performance was by nine-year-old Zhu Qiaoyan, who chased a kite through the air from one side of the stadium to the other, suspended on wires from the roofway above the stadium floor.
Athens Olympics silver medallist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore proudly carried the National flag, while the Indian athletes were a picture of joy. For the host, the towering basketball player Yao Ming did the honour, as he had done in Athens four years ago.
The TV camera was quite candid and captured Sonia Gandhi and George W. Bush, waving from the stands, when India and the U.S. marched.
“For a long time, China has dreamed of opening its doors and inviting the world’s athletes to Beijing for the Olympic Games. Tonight that dream comes true. Congratulations Beijing”, said the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Jacques Rogge.
“You have chosen as the theme of these Games, ‘One World, One Dream,’ that is what we are tonight. As one world, we grieved with you over the tragic earthquake in Sichuan Province. We were moved by the great courage and solidarity of the Chinese people. As one dream, may these Olympic Games bring you joy, hope and pride”, he said.
Addressing the athletes, the IOC President said, “dear athletes, remember that you are role models for the youth of the world. Reject doping and cheating. Make us proud of your achievements and your conduct," he said.
The President of China, Hu Jintao, declared the Games Open. “The Beijing Olympic Games is a grand celebration of sport for the world people including 1.3 billion Chinese citizens. The Chinese government and people, together with our friends from all over the world and the IOC, will stage a high level Olympic Games with distinguishing features.
“Our joint efforts will bring the Olympic Movement to new heights and make contributions to the noble cause of the development of mankind and world peace,” the Chinese President said in a statement.
The Olympic flag was carried by Chinese athletes of different eras, Zhang Xielin, Pan Duo, Zheng Fengrong, Yang Yang, Yang Ling, Mu Xiangxiong, Xiong Ni and Li Lingwei. It was hoisted to the tune of the Olympic anthem.
The double gold medallist of the Athens Games Zhang Yining, the 26-year-old table tennis star, took the oath of honour on behalf of the athletes.Bravo Beijing!
In a majestic climax, gymnast Li Ning, the triple gold medallist at the 1984 Games, was air-lifted to the roof of the stadium, and ran a lap on top with the Olympic flame, before lighting the cauldron, even as the journey of the torch was depicted all around him.
That was the real fireworks of the evening. Bravo Beijing!
Beijing Olympic games - opening ceremony
Beijing 2008 - On the eve of opening ceremony
The 2004 Olympics in Athens