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Beijing abuzz ahead of Olympic ceremony

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 Beijing abuzz ahead of Olympic ceremony
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The wait is almost over and the Beijing Olympics are about to begin.

At eight minutes and eight seconds past eight, on the eighth day of the eighth month, 2008, the Games’ opening ceremony will get underway.

In China, eight is considered a lucky number that signifies prosperity and for the people of Beijing, hosting the Olympics is a chance to show the world just how prosperous China has become.

One young woman said China had been waiting for this for more than 10 years and preparing for it for seven years.

The build-up to the event has been shrouded in controversy. The route taken by the Olympic flame has been lined with protesters denouncing China’s record on human rights.

But accusations of repression are not the only cloud hanging over Beijing’s big moment.

Serious concerns have been voiced about the poor air quality. Polluted skies have reduced visibility to a few hundred metres, despite measures to close nearby factories and take half the city’s cars off the streets.

Some 100,000 troops are on stand-by to ensure security and stop any protesters who may have slipped through the net.

The opening ceremony at the purpose-built Bird’s Nest stadium will be the most expensive in history.

Everything, even the fireworks display, has been meticulously choreographed and rehearsed.

With billions of people expected to watch on television, Chinese authorities are leaving nothing to chance.