Much of the world's attention was on the Beijing National Stadium on Friday as the venue hosted the opening ceremony for the 2022 Winter Olympics.
The stadium, commonly referred to as the Bird's Nest because of its design, also hosted the opening ceremony for the 2008 Summer Olympics. Beijing is the first city in history to host both a Summer and a Winter Olympics.
The event was on a much smaller and more muted scale than that memorable occasion – with 3,000 people taking part as opposed to 15,000.
The term "lichun" is a symbol of the end of winter and suggests an embracing of the beginning of the year and awakening of the creatures on Earth. As a Chinese proverb goes: A year's planning starts with the spring.
Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring would have been appropriate, as the season featured heavily as the opening theme. The lifecycle of the dandelion was represented by dancers carrying improbably tall and flexible glowing green stalks, which eventually turned white and were seen on video screen to be floating up into the sky as the seeds dispersed.
Fireworks then wrote the word “spring” in the sky above Beijing’s Bird’s Nest stadium.
This was the ceremony’s moment to acknowledge the Games that had come before, as lasers appeared to etch on its surface the names and dates of the 23 cities to previously host the Winter Games, going right back to Chamonix in 1924.
Designed by Ben Sherman and modelled below by the flag-bearer and curling medal hope Eve Muirhead, the main feature of the Team GB uniform for the opening ceremony appeared to be a nice chunky-knit jumper that would keep you warm on a fishing trip.
No word as to whether Team GB’s most famous knitter – diving gold medallist Tom Daley – was involved in the choice.
Speed skater Yekaterina Aidova of Kazakhstan put most countries’ costume efforts to shame.
The Kazakhstan team had also arranged a synchronised move to take off their scarves and wave them in unison.
American Samoa’s sole athlete and flagbearer stole the show in -2 degrees in Beijing by appearing topless, wearing only the skirt-like traditional lavalava and sandals.
The giant snowflake that had been a feature of the ceremony had been made by interlocking the signs that had been held up in front of each team as they entered the arena.
The Olympic torch was placed in the middle of it, hoisted into the sky and the show was over, leaving the sporting action to begin.