Wanderlust…

The International Reporting (and Life) Adventures of Vivian Salama

New World Order… to say the least!

Posted by vmsalama on August 8, 2008

I returned from the apartment of friends after watching a stunning Olympics opening ceremonies hosted by the Chinese.  For those of you who missed it, I highly recommend that you try to catch it. If I’m not mistaken, I read somewhere that the performers numbered well over 10,000 (I guess that’s not that big a deal for a country of 1.4 billion).  The “bird’s nest” Olympic stadium was absolutely spectacular and the performances were, at times, breath taking (I can’t imagine what it would have been like to watch it from the stadium).  I think it is fair to say that if there were any doubts of China’s emerging role as a world power, the opening ceremonies put speculation to rest.  China is here to stay.

 

Some of the political highlights:

–  by far my favorite moment was when the cameras flashed on the Algerian delegation and in between them was none other than French President Nicolas Sarkozy.  Hey Nick, I thought you love America?!

–  Vladamir Putin – and not Dmitry Medvedev – was the face of Russia, adding fuel to the fire of the rumor mill that Putin is still the man running the machine.  Incidentally, Putin did not seem phased that while festivities were taking place in Beijing, his country’s military had already started squashing Georgia.

–  Queen Margaret, and not Gordon Brown, was there representing the United Kingdom.  Brown will apparently be there for the closing ceremonies to accept the Olympic handover as London will host the games in 2012 (WOW!  Hard to imagine the next games are in 2012…. it sounds to futuristic!)

–  “Still President George Bush” (as the great Jon Stewart calls him) was there with wife Laura cheering on the troops, err, athletes as they marched into the Beijing Stadium.  Bush made headlines earlier this week by bashing China’s poor human rights record, though he made sure to do it in Thailand on his way to the games, rather than on Chinese soil where even President Bush is not immune to punishment (actually, I just made that up… he probably is, though he shouldn’t be).

Other highlights:

– 8 members of the Iraqi Olympic team were present for the march.  That number was left in question until the last moment.

–  Palestinians marched under their flag, something I am always pleased to see.  I look forward to the day that they march as a free and sovereign nation.  

–  Kosovo was not present in the march — I don’t know if that’s because they didn’t send any athletes or if it’s because they still march as part of Serbia.  If anyone knows, please drop a line, I’d be very curious.

–  North Korea sent a fairly large (well fed) delegation to the games. They did not march hand-in-hand with South Korea as in previous years, signifying South Korea’s new firmer stance on the issue of ties with its neighbor.

–  My friends and I laughed out loud at the sight of the team from Kingdom of Bahrain marching in with a banner that displayed a photo of the king, Sheikh Hamad ibn ‘Isa al Khalifah.  A bit tacky, Bahrain, but good on you for having no qualms!

 

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