The pomp of the Olympic opening ceremonies typically never matches the drama of the athletic events themselves, but that all changed in Beijing. Over 15,000 Chinese performers took part in the ceremony; flourishes included 2008 percussionists pounding on ancient drums, dancers twisting around a traditional scroll to pay tribute to Chinese art, and a giant globe that rose up from the center of the stadium. Near the end of the dazzling spectacle Li Ning, the Chinese gymnastics legend and entrepreneur, 'jogged' a 500-meter lap around the top of the Beijing Bird's Nest before lighting the Olympic torch. Suspended in the air with flame in hand, only computer-controlled wires wrapped around his waist kept Li from plunging hundreds of feet to the ground. The stunt was a painstaking, yet breathtaking, finale to China's grand welcome to the world that only included a few missteps: organizers digitally enhanced some fireworks for television, and ordered a precocious seven-year old to lip synch a song sung by another young girl, who was deemed not cute enough for the screen.
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