Cities that host the Olympic Games typically have a series of events in their facilities during the months leading up to the big event, and Beijing is no exception. In the industry, we call these “test events” because they are like a shakedown cruise for the venues, seeing how they function with real use and training staff, from technical people to ushers to security to box office. For whatever reason, the exclusive ticketing supplier of the Olympic Games has nothing whatsoever to do with these events, so we’ll get our shakedown on the opening day of the Games, I guess.
The whole series of test events here have been dubbed “Good Luck Beijing” (Hao Yun Beijing) events. I think this name (in English at least) has a different sort of feeling to it than they intended, or than it apparently has in Chinese.
Many of these test events are real competitions. Currently the National Aquatics Center is hosting the Diving World Cup.
This amazing new building has been nicknamed the Water Cube (Shui Lifang) for obvious reasons. I was very happy to get hold of a couple of tickets for an event there, and I really didn’t care what it was. It turned out to be women’s 3m synchronized diving, a sport I never really paid attention to before.
It is right across the road from the other landmark venue of the Olympic Green, the National Stadium, nicknamed the Bird’s Nest (Niao Chao), again for obvious reasons.
The grounds are still far from finished.
Across the street on the opposite side from the Bird’s Nest is this multi-use complex, slated to open this summer.
The top of that building is going to be quite interesting.
Also nearby is this dark, imposing structure. Note the resemblance to a printed circuit board. If I remember right, this will be the electronic nerve center of the games, and will have some elaborate lighting displays on its surfaces.
The Water Cube is pretty interesting inside too.
We sat at the end where the diving pool is located.
Down at the other end is where they’ll have swimming events.
Synchronized diving is pretty much what you’d expect from the name.
Two women do the same dive at the same time from adjacent boards.
They are scored by the judges on the quality of their dives.
They are also scored on their synchronization – how close the two dives are to each other.
I think there were 19 countries participating. China won the competition handily, with the USA trailing a distant second.
Afterwards, we discovered that there are shuttle buses to take people to two of the closer subway lines. This made it much easier to get out of there than it was arriving.
And as a side note, a cold front has moved in, so it’s back to the long underwear.
Update: I forgot to mention one of the more amusing things about the diving match. Before each team would do their thing, a little snip of music was played. At first it seemed the music was supposed to represent the country. We hear ABBA for the Swedish team, and a Chinese pop tune for the Chinese team. But what was I to make of the Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop"? And there was a bit of music that was unmistakably Irish, a jig with bodhran and fiddle, but Ireland didn't even have a team. And Madonna doing "La Isla Bonita"...?