The Beijing National Stadium, where the opening ceremony was held, is also known as the "Bird's Nest."
On this day in 2001, Beijing was selected as the host city of the 2008 Olympics at the 112th IOC Session in Moscow. IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch’s announcement of “Beijing!” brought millions of Chinese to tears as they celebrated the progress China achieved in just two decades.
Beijing won the bidding process handily, beating Toronto, Paris, Istanbul and Osaka. After the first round of voting, Beijing had the most votes compared with other four candidates. And in the second round, a majority of voters gave their supports to Beijing, eliminating the need for another round. The IOC Evaluation Committee recognized widespread public and government support and guaranteed construction of venues as major strengths in China’s successful bid.
He Zhenliang, Honorary Chairman of the Chinese Olympic Committee, stood speechless as supporters came to congratulate him. Liu Qi, then-Mayor of Beijing, said he cherished the moment he signed the contract with IOC, and that he will always keep the pen with which he signed with him. Lang Ping, the legendary volleyball star, said she felt more excited about the selection of Beijing than when she won the gold medal herself in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. “The international community trusts China more and more as China is developing into a major country that is strong both economically and politically,” she said.
News reports wrote that international support from a diverse group of nations had helped Beijing win, especially developing countries who had received economic assistance from China. The victory showcased China’s transformation from a once-isolated agrarian state to a major power in trade, industry and diplomacy.
The Beijing Olympics was the most watched in history, with 204 countries and regions participating. It set numerous records, including 43 new world records and 132 Olympics records. China ranked top in the gold medal count with 48, while the US won the most overall with 111.
The slogan of the 2008 games, “One World, One Dream” was widely popular in China, underlining its theme of pushing human history towards huge progress. The games’ theme song, “Beijing Huan Ying Ni (北京欢迎你, Beijing Welcomes You)” and its five mascots also gained major traction.