|Grand celebration marks one-year countdown to the 2008 Olympic Games|
Tiananmen Square turned into a festival of jubilation Wednesday night as people from across China and from around the world gathered to celebrate the one-year countdown to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
10, 9, 8, 7, 6 ... 1! As the countdown clock in front of the Chinese National Museum struck the exact moment of the one-year countdown, fireworks lit the sky. Scenes from the simultaneous celebrations citywide and in the Olympic co-host cities were broadcast on a large projection screen.
A number of senior officials joined in the celebration at Tiananmen Square, including Wu Bangguo, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the tenth NPC and member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee; Liu Qi, member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, Secretary of the Beijing Municipal CPC Committee and President of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG); Hua Jianmin, State Councilor and Secretary General of the State Council; and Chen Zhili, State Councilor and BOCOG First Vice-President.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge presented Beijing 2008 Olympic Games invitation letters to various National Olympic Committees (NOCs).
Rogge presents an invitation letter to Liu Peng
At around 8:10pm, as the "Olympic Anthem" played in the background, the Chinese national flag, the IOC flag, and the flag of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games were brought in to join the flags of over 200 National Olympic Committees onstage. The presidents of the Greek, Canadian, British, Russian, and Chinese National Olympic Committees accepted the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games invitation letters from Mr. Rogge as representatives of NOCs.
Speaking to the audience, Wu Bangguo said the Olympic Movement is dedicated to the pursuit of peace, friendship and progress and it holds "Citius, Altius, Fortius" as its motto. It plays an important and unique role in maintaining world peace, promoting friendship among people, and enhancing the development of world sport and culture. It is a century-old dream of the Chinese people to stage an Olympic Games. By hosting the Olympic Games, we intend to further promote the Olympic spirit, world peace and development; we intend to deepen mutual understanding and friendship between the Chinese people and the people of the world for more extensive exchanges and cooperation; and we intend to encourage the Chinese people of all ethnic groups to work more vigorously for building a moderately prosperous society in all aspects.
Wu noted that to stage a high-level Olympic Games with distinguishing features is the solemn commitment the Chinese Government and people made. We will strengthen cooperation with the IOC and give full support to the preparatory work to ensure a successful Beijing Olympic Games. We welcome athletes, coaches, officials, spectators and journalists to participate in, observe and report the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. And we will provide quality services for them in accordance with Olympic standards, and create favorable conditions to facilitate their work, visit and participation in competitions.
Wu expressed belief that with our close cooperation and concerted efforts, the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games will add splendor to the Olympic Movement!
In his speech, Mr. Rogge said, "The world is watching China and Beijing with great expectation. The athletes also have great expectations and they are all looking forward to competing in the state-of-the-art Beijing venues."
Rogge also stated that China would greet the world with an entirely new image. "Beijing and China will not only host a successful Games for the world's premier athletes, but will also provide an excellent opportunity to discover China, its history, its culture, and its people, with China opening itself to the world in new ways."
Rogge believes that through cultural exchange and mutual respect and understanding, Beijing citizens, the Chinese people, and the people of the world will all be winners at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
Liu Qi stated in a speech that the Olympic Games has pushed forward many facets of improvements in Beijing including economic and social development, environmental quality, quality of life, societal harmony, and public manners. He also said that this final year would be a critical phase in getting ready for the Games. "We will follow through on the guidance of President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao and put all our efforts into being fully prepared in all areas," Liu said. The goal is to achieve a "high-level Olympic Games with distinguishing features."
Liu Peng -- Minister of China's State General Administration of Sport, President of the Chinese Olympic Committee, and Executive President of BOCOG -- also spoke at the celebration, saying that in the coming year "we will use the opportunity to disseminate Olympic knowledge and spread the Olympic spirit." He also emphasized fitness for the entire population of China in light of the Olympics, so that more people would be able to enjoy the benefits of health, enthusiasm, and happiness.
Both Chinese and international artists and art groups gave brilliant performances during the celebration. Also, Chinese musicians performed the songs selected from the Beijing 2008 Olympic song competition, with a celebration finale performance of "Beijing United."
More than 10,000 people attended the celebration at Tiananmen Square, hosted by Wang Qishan, the Mayor of Beijing and Executive President of BOCOG.