BEIJING, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- The hot tip on who will light the Olympic flame at the Olympic Games opening ceremony tonight is gymnastics legend Li Ning.
As sports stars Liu Xiang and Yao Ming appeared out of the possible candidate list, Li has been considered a prime choice to light the cauldron at the National Stadium, or the Bird's Nest.
Lighting the cauldron with the flame from Olympia is an immense honour and the most symbolic act of the ceremony.
The final torch bearer should be able to represent the image of China, communicate with the world, display the Olympic spirit, and be fully recognized by the public, Feng Jianzhong, deputy head of the General Administration of Sport, has said.
Li, 45, won three gold medals, two silver and one bronze in gymnastics at the 1984 Olympics. Known as China's gymnastics prince, he has been garlanded with success. And nowadays, he is a successful businessman with his own sports goods company.
The chances of basketball star Yao Ming, gold-medal hurdler Liu Xiang, or China's first astronaut Yang Liwei -- all prominent bearers during the Beijing leg of the country's world torch relay, to light the Olympic flame are slim, if tradition is anything to go by.
Tradition usually goes that whoever has carried the torch before the opening will not be chosen as the one to light the cauldron.
Other big names such as shooting gold medalist Xu Haifeng, and senior International Olympic Committee member He Zhenliang, had also been excluded from the speculation.