The four-hour opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics came to a spectacular
conclusion today when Li Ning, the former China gymnast, was hoisted to the roof
of the Bird's Nest Stadium to light a giant Olympic flame.
The torch's journey to Beijing had been highly controversial, with
demonstrations in London and other cities over China's human rights record in
Tibet, but there were no disruptions to a stunning visual show which, if nothing
else, has raised the bar dauntingly high for the organisers of London 2012.
The pounding drums of 2008 People's Liberation Army soldiers had signalled
the start of a ceremony which captured all the messianic ambition and no
expense-spared scale of China's first Games.