Amid Olympic Hype, Beijing Subdued

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

Editor's Note: Jodi Noffsinger is filing regular updates on the scene at the Olympics in her Beijing Blonde column on

BEIJING — While the world's been looking forward to the Olympics, this is the day that I — along with a mere 1.3 billion Chinese — have been waiting for since moving here two years ago from New York City. And while these games were seven years in the making, I'd like to think that I was privileged to be in on the most important years as all of the billion-dollar projects that modernized Beijing finally came to a close.

Yet for all the Olympic excitement and hype, it was oddly subdued in the city the past few days; for once, there was nothing left to do. All the preparations had been made — buildings built, flags hung, flowers planted. The city that used to bustle with non-stop construction and cars crowding the roads was unusually quiet. Today even more so, as it was an unofficial holiday with many businesses closed for the day.

On a trip to my local supermarket in the morning, I saw many Chinese stocking up on food for the feasts they planned to prepare for their families as they gathered to watch the opening ceremonies. I asked several taxi drivers if they would be working tonight and they told me of course not, they'd be home watching China's big night.

Olympic spirit was definitely in the air and it seemed everywhere I went everyone was singing one of the official Olympic songs, "Beijing Huan Ying Ni," which translates to, "Beijing Welcomes You."

The song, made by 100 well known artists from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan for the 100-day countdown for the games, is reminiscent of "We Are the World," and it's easy to find yourself singing along with the catchy chorus. I heard a woman who worked in the supermarket belting out the song as it played on loop over the loudspeaker. And even in my apartment building filled with expats from around the world, the song was blaring in the lobby. My Chinese housekeeper arrived today also humming the tune.

As anticipation grew throughout the day, so did the humidity and heat. Sadly, it was not one of Beijing's finest air-quality days. I felt exhausted and overheated from the few short strolls I took in my neighborhood.

And as the anticipation and the heat felt like they had reached a boiling point, the opening ceremonies finally began. I was feeling unfortunate that I wasn't one of the lucky ones to get a ticket to the coveted event.

But on second thought, watching the broadcast live on CCTV (China Central Television) from the comfort of my air-conditioned apartment wasn't so bad at all — as I saw spectators sweat and fan themselves throughout the broadcast. I can only imagine how hot those athletes must have been as they paraded into the stadium, particularly for the teams wearing suits.

And now the party has started just after midnight in Beijing, as the four-hour long opening ceremonies are over and I hear the thunder of fireworks exploding from my apartment. Stay tuned for more from Beijing in the days ahead.