Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou to lead Olympic ceremony again
Famous Chinese director Zhang Yimou, who hosted the spectacular opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, will reprise the role for next month’s Winter Games in the capital, organizers said.
Zhang, 71, promised a “totally innovative” unveiling, while conceding that the global pandemic and colder weather will limit its scale compared to 14 years ago, when 15,000 artists took part.
“Being simple, just like in martial arts movies, is like a master’s sword,” Zhang told the state-run Xinhua News Agency in an interview on Friday night.
“It looks like a very simple stab, but with fateful power.”
The director of Chinese classics like “Red Sorghum”, “Raise the Red Lantern” and martial arts epics like “Hero” and “House of Flying Daggers” said about 3,000 artists will participate.
Zhang said he would present “a bold idea” for lighting the Olympic torch that incorporates concepts such as “environmental protection and low carbon emissions.”
He gave no further clues, but state broadcaster CGTN separately quoted Zhang as saying that Chinese Lunar New Year elements would also feature in the theme.
The Olympics from February 4 to 20 roughly coincide with the extended Lunar New Year holiday in China.
“I’m very nervous. I think it’s totally innovative and people will be surprised,” Zhang said quoting Xinhua News Agency.
The stunning 2008 release featured 2,008 musicians beating ancient Chinese drums in perfect timing, along with thousands of others – martial artists, dancers, opera singers, acrobats and trapeze artists – in lavish costumes.
The 2008 ceremony focused on China’s rich history and civilization, but was also widely seen as an exclamation point highlighting the country’s re-emergence as a global force.
“It’s different now,” Zhang said quoting Xinhua.
“The image of the Chinese, and the rise of our national status, everything is totally different now.”
“In the aftermath of the pandemic, the world needs a new and strengthened vision, that is, the peoples of the world come together to face the challenges and look forward to a bright future. “
The Games will be held in the shadow of the pandemic and tensions with the West over China’s treatment of Tibetans, the Uyghur Muslim minority in Xinjiang, and the ongoing crackdown on dissent in Hong Kong.
The United States and some of its allies have announced a diplomatic boycott of the Games, which means they will not send any government officials, a snub that has infuriated Beijing.
The Games will be the world’s toughest mass sporting event since the global pandemic began two years ago.
Last week, China activated its Olympic “bubble”, in which thousands of athletes, coaches, staff and volunteers linked to the Games will be cocooned.
Anyone entering the bubble must be fully vaccinated or face a 21-day quarantine to enter. Everyone inside will be tested daily and should wear face masks at all times.
bur-dma / jfx