Destination: Beijing Olympics event
Getting ready for the 2008 Summer Games, China’s Olympic dreams started in Los Angeles
The 2008 Summer Olympics were officially launched in Los Angeles last month, when members of the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee and Beijing Radio and TV hosted an entertaining gala at Universal Studios.
The big event had the theme “Seeking Our Olympic Dreams,” and it informed the special VIP guests and media attending about the historic ties between Beijing and Los Angeles.
Having the most fun with the crowd at the cocktail reception were the five playful mascots of the Olympics, called the Fuwa. They were creating new friends as they greeted the gathering of international guests. Representing the Olympic flame, fish, antelope, bird and panda– the mascots roamed the studio’s historic Baker Street set.
Later Chinese entertainers dazzled everyone with a show in the Globe Theatre ballroom. Both traditional and modern Chinese performers provided exciting entertainment. Chinese folk music by a group of pretty girls called Splendour started the show with some very old tunes. Later they came back to rock the ballroom with more contemporary music. Acrobats and a skillful juggler also wowed the audience.
The Beijing Opera had singers and dancers, with a highlight being the “Fairy Lady Spreading Flowers” performance.
To add to the cultural ties between China and the U.S., Kerry Holahan, an American singer now living in Beijing, sang a traditional Chinese folk song “In That Remote Place.” It was beautiful.
During the evening, the real stars to emerge were a couple of quiet men who connected LA and Beijing forever in Olympic history.
When Los Angeles first hosted the Olympics in 1932, only one Chinese athlete participated, runner Liu Changchun. He didn’t take home a medal, but he did bring back the Olympic spirit. His son Liu Hongliang was on hand to talk about how his father inspired many of his countrymen to follow in his footsteps.
The second time LA hosted the Olympics, in 1984, China won 15 gold medals and 32 overall. At the event was Xu Hai Fang, the man who literally pulled the trigger on that historic feat, winning the first gold medal, for the rifle event. The soft-spoken man modestly said, “As an athlete it is my job and my honor to do the very best that I can.” And he welcomed all the world’s athletes to come to Beijing to compete and do their very best, as well as make new friends in his country.
“Everyone comes back from their travels with tales of the new friends they’ve made. That’s a wonderful legacy. When we talk about the Olympics, we’re actually talking about stories of friendships,” noted Alison Friedman, an American who is the coordinator of the Beijing Modern Dance Company. She also co-emceed the entertainment presentations.
The memorable celebration of history and athletics had a touch of Hollywood, with a sneak peek of the upcoming Chinese movie “The One,” the fascinating story of China’s first Olympiad Liu Changchum, a national hero.
Everyone with the special Beijing delegation at the event deserved a gold medal for enthusiasm, and presenting an exciting event of Olympic proportions.
The people of Los Angeles know what the Olympics did for them, gaining international recognition with the eyes of the world on the city for the 1932 games, and then again in 1984. It did a tremendous job promoting tourism, and I was informed that is among the goals of the Beijing delegation.
The hope is that the Olympic rings and torch will light up the stadium in Beijing, and bring people together in the spirit of the Olympic Games.
It all starts in August, 8-8-08.