Greatest show on earth begins today
By Azrol Azmi

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam arrived safely in Beijing, China, yesterday evening to attend the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games, the biggest sports show on earth.

On arrival at the International Airport, His Majesty was greeted by Vice Minister of Civil Affairs Jiang Li and other senior Chinese government officials.

Also present to greet His Majesty were Magdalene Teo Chee Siong, Ambassador of Brunei Darussalam to China and officials from the Embassy of Brunei in Beijing.

His Majesty is accompanied by HRH Prince 'Abdul Mateen.

Earlier, His Majesty was bid farewell at the Brunei International Airport by His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade and His Royal Highness Prince 'Abdul Malik.

A recital of the doa selamat was read by the State Mufti, Pehin Dato Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Abdul Aziz Juned prior to His Majesty's departure.

Also present at the airport to bid His Majesty farewell were Madame Tong Xiaoling, Ambassador of China to Brunei, Brunei's Cabinet ministers and other senior government officers.

More than 80 heads of states and governments and royals will attend the opening ceremony in the National Stadium, better known as the Bird's Nest, foreign wires reported.

Olympic supremo Jacques Rogge has already declared the Beijing Olympics the best ever.

The world's most populous country had the manpower to build gigantic stadiums and is overwhelming athletes, officials and the media with an army of 70,000 volunteers for the August 8-24 games.

Friday's opening ceremony is to set the stage for the 16 days of sport as it is by all accounts to be a monumental affair to showcase China's transformation over the past years.

Organisers said that more than 11,000 athletes have been accredited to compete for 302 medals in 28 sports.

The Olympic slogan "One World, One Dream" could be seen all over the city.

When addressing media from 25 countries last week, President Hu Jintao said the slogan expressed our sincere wish, which was that Chinese people would like to join hands with people across the globe to create a better future under the influence of the Olympic spirit.

Some 15,000 performers are set to take part, with 29,000 fireworks due to be released into the night sky.

The ceremony is also due to see Chinese pop star Liu Huan, together with British singer Sarah Brightman, sing a specially commissioned theme song in the closing 'artistic' section.

It is no surprise that film director Zhang Yimou, best known in the West for his Oscar-nominated movie "House of Flying Daggers", has been entrusted with overseeing the ceremony.

Zhang explained this week that the event "would showcase the ancient and long history of the Chinese nation".

He added: "The performance will reflect the cultural aspects of Chinese society and showcase what modern China and its people are all about."

One thing has remained secret and that is the identity of the person who will light the Olympic flame after China President Hu Jintao declares the Games open. - Borneo Bulletin (8th August 2008)