Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for coming to share this moment of great celebration with us. As the Chinese President said in Beijing, the Chinese people will always remember the support and understanding accorded us.
This is a moment 1.3 billion people in China have been waiting for a long, long time.
Let me explain why the Chinese see the Beijing Olympics as a hundred year old dream fulfilled.
In July 1908 one hundred years ago, the Olympics opened in London. China at that time was in dire misery, being a semi-feudal and semi-colonized state.
Some Chinese youth took note of the Olympics held five thousand miles away here in London. A young man asked three questions in an article for Tianjin Youth:
"When will China send an athlete to the Olympics?"
"When will Chinese athletes win a gold medal in the Olympics?"
"When will China host Olympics?"
His first question was answered 24 years later in 1932 when China sent a sprinter to the Los Angeles Games.
76 years later, Xu Haifeng won the first gold medal for China in shooting, again in Los Angeles.
Exactly one hundred years later in Beijing, the dream of that young Chinese, which has been shared by the whole nation, is coming true.
For China, the Olympics is a moment of great joy and pride and a celebration of the country being out of poverty firmly on the right path to greater prosperity.
Most of all, this is a celebration of sports.
For the Chinese, we would like to have as many gold medals as possible. But I don't think we should give the athletes too much pressure. Being there on home ground is exciting already.
The success of Beijing depends to a large extent on how well we host the games. Now the stage is all set for the world to have an enjoyable sports experience. As far as I can see, the hundreds of thousands of visitors are happy in Beijing. I am sure that with the efforts and sincerity of one fourth of the world's population, even a heart of iron could melt a bit.
After the Beijing Games, the spotlight would be on London and I am sure London will have its success in 2012.
At this moment, the most important thing is for Beijing not to rain.
As the clock is ticking for the opening, let me give you a few tips about the ceremony and what viewers can look forward to from the big feast Zhang Yimao cooked for us. He commented that this would be the only opportunity in his life to surprise the world.
1. How is he going to reflect the diversity of China? There are 56 ethnic groups and 30 provinces in China and it is important that every group found something to associate with it. Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan should not be left out, either.
2. How is he going to balance China's 5000 year old history with the past 30 years of modern development?
3. Who is going to sing the Olympic theme song? The song was selected from among tens of thousands of entries through a process of fierce competition. Even our former Foreign Minister wrote an Olympic song. Now the song will be judged by the 4 billion viewers of the world.
The singers would be Liu Huan and Sarah Brightman and is supposed to be a marriage of the East with the West.
4. Who is going to be the flag bearer for the Chinese team? The result of the voting is already out and it is Yao Ming.
5. The climax of the opening ceremony and also its most guarded secret is who is going to light the Olympic flame. The voting in China shows very diverse views. Some think it should be the president or the premier. Others prefer an athlete.
On top of the list is He Zhenliang, who was instrumental in Beijing's Olympic bid. Another guess is Li Ning, a gymnast, if Zhang Yimao needs an acrobatic twist.
We will all be watching how these secrets unveil in the coming hours.
The whole ceremony would be 3 and a half hours. Please take some Lunch as you are watching. We will have some fantastic raffles during the event. The special prize should be drawn at around 2:25pm, before some of you leave, as you may need to go back to the office.
Without further ado, let's all raise our glass and drink to Beijing and to the Olympics!