Updated: 8 a.m.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach has spoken at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Games, thanking those around the globe who he says have gone “beyond the call of duty” to make the events happen as a global pandemic continues raging.
These Olympics are the second to take place during the COVID-19 pandemic, after the Tokyo Games last summer.
Bach talked about how the Olympics highlight “ambition, courage and strength.” He likened those qualities to what China has done to grow Olympic winter sports to its residents.
Bach also addressed the athletes of the Beijing Games directly, saying: “Dear fellow Olympians, your Olympic stage is set. You have arrived here after overcoming so many challenges. ... But now your moment has come, the moment you have been longing for, the moment we all have been longing for. Now your Olympic dream is coming true.”
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Bach’s remarks immediately preceded the games being officially opened by Chinese President Xi Jinping, his words prompting the setting off of fireworks that lit up the sky over the Bird's Nest.
As always at an Olympics, Greece was the first nation to enter the stadium. From there, it goes alphabetically — but by the language of the host country.
Every nation was led into the stadium by someone carrying a glowing snowflake-shaped placard bearing that country’s name. And each of the snowflakes, when put back together, would form a larger snowflake.
The placard bearers’ costumes has an ice-and-snow pattern, and their hats have a tiger motif — because this year is the year of the tiger in China.