Saturday, 9 August 2008


Today's press claims 4 billion people watched the 2-3 hour Beijing opening ceremony yesterday.

That's 66% of the world's total population. After removing 10% for, say, 0-4 year old children and making an allowance for TV coverage only being to 89% of the world, then we're at circa 5.3bn 'available viewers'. So now we are at 75% of the available population.

I missed it yesterday, because it was screened around midday in my working UK day and then I was out in the evening. So did the people I was with, for similar reasons.
on the way to beijing
And these folks in Beijing didn't make it either, because the road was blocked off.
beijing start
Judging from today's pictures in the UK press, it was quite a spectacle.
Bush volleyball
There seems to be no end of great photo opportunities from the ceremonies as well as the inevitable photography of the passing politicians such as Mr Bush, who stopped by at the womens' beach volleyball.

Naturally there was some offbeat BBC coverage of smog from their hotel window.

And we mustn't forget the sports photography, which also seemed attracted to early coverage of the same sport as some of the politicians. The Norwegian volleyball team has never been so popular.
beach volleyball screengrab
Of course, some of the early events were on the beach because of the opening ceremony in the stadium. The Bird's Nest Stadium cost $250m and the $40m opening ceremony was 13 months in preparation. China is reported to have spent $40bn on staging the event in total.

Our UK budget is reputedly $18.5bn for construction and around $4bn to run the Games using 'temporary' stadiums in an East London 'dust bowl' according to Tessa Jowell. I'm not sure that she should be using those words actually. She did say that Beijing would be the last iconic stadium, although the one we are building is predicted to cost twice as much. Admittedly these are also the 2007 estimates, so things might have changed.

At least Great Britain's 313 athletes for the Beijing games will be safe in the knowledge that we've reportedly sent 639 public servants to keep them company and to find out how its all done in time for our turn. Gordon Brown only needs 20 aides and Boris is making do with 13.

In fairness, around half of the £6.8m budget travel budget is for the 437 BBC staff providing Beijing television coverage. So the taxpayers' governmental and police based coverage is only 202 people. But you can get your virtual Beijing rashbre central ticket here.
beijing ticket to opening ceremony

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