BEIJING, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- The opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games began in the National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest, in north Beijing at 8 p.m. on Friday.
A formation of 2,008 young men controlled 2,008 Fou, an ancient percussion instrument of China with a 3,000-year history, all embedded with LED beads, to flash out the last seconds of the seven-year countdown to the Games, which started on July 13, 2001.
Chinese President Hu Jintao and International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge rose from their seats in the VIP stand to wave to a cheering crowd in the full-packed stadium.
The formation of Fou beaters then started a thunderous welcoming ceremony, chanting Confucius' saying "How Happy We Are, To Meet Friends From Afar!"
Twenty-nine colossal footprints, created by firework explosions in the sky and symbolizing the successive summer Olympics, traveled all the way along the central axis of Beijing, from the ancient city gate of Yongdingmen in the south to the futurist steel-framed Bird's Nest.
Sparkles fell into the stadium and "lit up" a huge LED screen that showed the Olympic five rings. Embraced by "flying fairies" in shining costumes, the five rings, also made up with LED beads, were lifted in the air before the unbelieving eyes of some 91,000 spectators.
To the melodious rhythm of the song "A hymn to the motherland," the Chinese national flag was ushered in the stadium, and hoisted with the excited and proud home crowd singing the national anthem loudly.