Beijing, the capital of the People's Republic of China, is also the center of the whole nation's politics, culture, international communications, and technological innovation. Beijing has a history of more than 3000 years as a city, and more than 850 years as a capital, making it one of the four major historical capitals of China. Beijing boasts many world-famous scenic attractions and cultural heritage as a city enriched by the cultural legacy from the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties. The city has seven UNESCO World Heritage sites (includes the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, and the Summer Palace), ranking first in the world.
While Beijing is certainly a traditional and historical city, it has grown into a modern international metropolis nowadays. Here in Beijing, the old and the new blend perfectly, with its hutong (small alleyways), small teahouses, bustling bar streets and modern merchandise streets making a lively symbiosis and adding radiance and beauty to each other. The ancient capital bears a solemn temperament that formed with thick vicissitudes of life, at the same time, it puts on a new look of a fashionable and modern metropolis as it is undergoing rapid changes everyday.
The Beijing National Stadium (Bird's Nest)
Beijing has rich experience in hosting global multi-sport events. The 1990 Asian Games in Beijing was the first time that China had held an international multi-sport event. Following that, Beijing successfully hosted the 21st Summer Universiade in 2001, the 2008 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games, the 9th FINA Synchronised Swimming World Trophy 2014, and the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Athletics.
The 21st Summer Universiade Beijing in 2001 marked the first time in history that China had hosted a global multi-sport event, which is also considered a rehearsal for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Through hosting this Games, Beijing opened its door to the world and warmly welcomed the coming of the 21st century. The Summer Universiade Beijing in 2001 was the biggest in history in size, with around 7000 athletes, coaches, and officials from 169 nations and regions taking part in the event, setting the records for both. The event lasted for 11 days, during which a total of 171 gold medals were awarded. 20 athletes and 3 teams broke 28 records across 21 different athletics and swimming events, and one athlete set a new record for race walking in the Games. The Chinese sports team ranked first of both gold medal table and overall medal table with an impressive haul of 54 gold medals, 25 silver medals, and 24 bronze medals. This was the first time that the Chinese team had managed to get first place on both tables in World University Games history. The American team got second place with 21 gold medals, 13 silver medals, and 13 bronze medals, while the Russian team ranked third with 14 gold medals, 19 silver medals, and 20 bronze medals.
The Official Emblem of Summer Universiade Beijing 2001
The opening and closing ceremonies of the Summer Universiade Beijing 2001 were both creative, mixing traditional Chinese flavor and modern technologies and displaying the charm of a new Beijing and a new China in the 21st century to the world. During the opening ceremony, with the FISU flag rising slowly in the main venue, the spectacle planned for the flame lighting was thus revealed: the torchbearer Tian Liang, a diving athlete who won dual-champion of the Olympics and Diving Championships, received the torch from the world-famous table tennis player Deng Yaping. Then he ran to a flying saucer-type launch platform and lit the igniter. The flying saucer soared into the air and shot off a firework, thus kindling the highest cauldron in the World University Games history. This creative way of lighting the flame brought the house down.
The spectacular Summer Universiade Beijing 2001 closing ceremony was similarly impressive which was also seen as "the best" in various aspects: the size of the ceremony, the number of performers, the diversity of music and programmes, the level of artistic value. It was also surprising that this marvelous ceremony was prepared with the shortest rehearsal time and the lowest cost. The 60-minutes ceremony consisted of three chapters, themed "Enjoy the Moment", "We Love Sports", "Embrace New Era" separately. 6000 professional actors and 2000 athletics representatives performed together on a big open stage, presenting wonderful programmes themed "Chinese culture, sportsmanship and peace" to spectators.
The Opening Ceremony of World University Games Beijing 2001
The programes are of mixed forms, with traditional elements such as Peking Opera, Chinese folk songs, martial arts, local acrobatics perfectly fusing with modern elements such as fashion show, rock music, and rap music. The versatile and diverse art performances conveyed to the world in the purest way that Chinese people admire sportsmanship and cherish peace.
"From the very beginning, the opening ceremony was perfect with every second just as we had imagined, " said George Gillian, the FISU president at the time, as he sung the praises of the World University Games Beijing 2001, "I don't know any of a single thing that could have made the World University Games this year better. "
(Image source: the Internet)