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Nanjing sets the bar high with majestic Opening Ceremony

17 August 2014

YOG: Move over Beijing 2008, your baby brother Nanjing is in town and seems to have an impressive pair of lungs.

Sky diving dancers, gigantic telescopes, human pantomime camels and a world record selfie attempt; the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games Opening Ceremony had it all.

There was grandeur, there was jaw-dropping audacity and, inevitably, there was a majestic sense of scale and timing.

But better than all of that, there was humour that crept in like a cheeky Nanjing schoolboy, giving the show a lightness of touch that is often notable by its absence on such occasions.

“It was quite fantastic, it was a good display put on by the Chinese... It was pretty exciting and some of the stuff they did was pretty ridiculous,” Mackenzie Warne, Australian Youth Hockey player said.

“I thought it was pretty amazing, they had so much use of technology,” Emily Augustine, Youth runner said.

From the start of the 100-minute-or so performance, there was little sense that this was a Youth Olympic Games.

On the nod of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the China Olympic Committee, the budget was reportedly capped at less than one tenth of the spectacle in Beijing.

This, of course, still left a fair few Yuan for the creative team to play with. And play they did.

The promoted chief director Chen Weiya (CHN), who served as deputy director of both ceremonies in Beijing, enjoyed himself.

A fair share of pleasingly surreal moments popped up. A personal highlight was 28 of the bouncing, fluorescent jellybean mascots, NanjingLELE, appearing on motorised scooters and driving randomly amid a sea of silk-clad dancers. Presumably, for no other reason than that they could.

This sense of fun combined beautifully with China’s famous metronomic beauty to produce the undoubted highlight of the show – an ever-growing human pyramid of acrobatic skydivers. Gasps of admiration escaped from all sides of the 62,000 capacity crowd. Silver and orange-clad dancers held by silk thin ropes rose and fell in perfect symmetry, 20 metres above the stadium.

This part of the show was a highlight for many of the Australian Youth Olympic Team who could not stop talking about it on the bus ride back to the Youth Olympic Village.

“It was so cool how they held on to each and twirled around, it was amazing,” Augustine said.

Ancient Chinese characters, blue and white porcelain, the Silk Road, all these and more were used in great style to depict China’s remarkable journey.

There was also the odd nod to previous Olympic Games Ceremonies with the lighting of the flame very similar to Barcelona 1992.

The last word of this wonderfully uplifting ceremony must go to the irrepressible volunteers. Several hundred of them represented their reported 20,000 brethren with true dignity, dancing tirelessly in sheeting rain throughout the 30 minute flag bearing ceremony. Not one of them stopped smiling or moving in time and come to think of it, not one of them looked remotely wet, despite the gathering puddles at their feet.

For the AYOT the Nanjing Opening Ceremony is surely something they will never forget.

“It was more than I was expecting, I didn’t think it would be anything like that or that many people as well,” Augustine said.

“It was definitely a good first view of what we can expect if we go onto a senior Olympic Games,” Warne said.

Overall it was magic even Chinese Yuan cannot buy.

The Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games are here. Hurrah.

YIS with Laura Judd

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