The 2008 Summer Olympics are officially underway after possibly the most spectacular opening ceremony in the history of the event. It took seven years of planning and billions of dollars, but the four-hour exhibition was considered a resounding success.
Unsurprisingly, security was tight, in part because of the threat of terrorism, but also due to protesters angry at China’s record on human rights, media freedoms, and air pollution concerns.
The show went off without interruption, but despite claims of a capacity crowd of 91,000 people, the BBC’s Michael Bristow writes that “there were small clumps of empty seats in some parts of the National Stadium.”
Unfortunately, things went well off-script just hours after the ceremony concluded:
A knife-wielding Chinese man attacked two relatives of a coach for the U.S. Olympic men’s volleyball team at a tourist site in Beijing, killing one and injuring the other on the first day of the Olympics on Saturday, team officials and state media said.
The man then committed suicide by throwing himself from the second story of the site, the 13th century Drum Tower.
According to wire reports, attacks on foreigners in China are extremely rare, more so given the heightened security for the Olympics.
The U.S. men’s basketball team, arguably the highest profile athletes at the games, were briefed on the attacks, but no further details were released. The Americans will play China in the preliminary round at 10:15 AM EST tomorrow.