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"The most spectacular Olympics opening ever!"-- Thais follow Beijing Olympics at home
09:15, August 09, 2008

"The most spectacular Olympics opening ever!" Thai TV commentators at National Broadcasting Services of Thailand (NBT) gave the appraisement after completed presenting the Thai viewers the 3.5-hour Beijing Olympics opening ceremony on Friday evening.

"Beautiful indeed," Thai TV anchors repeatedly acclaimed, when the live picture displaying a central stage designed in the form of an ancient Chinese scroll with artists "dancing out" traditional Chinese paintings, with fireworks popping up from the rim of the now household "Bird Nest" -- Chinese National Stadium in Beijing.

For Thais, the Olympic opening ceremony is a chance to have a glimpse at one of the world's oldest civilization so near and close to their own nation.

A bigger Thai audience were expected to tune in on Friday evening for the event at home, cafes and bars with screens, thanks to the geographical advantage -- only 4,000 kilometers and one-hour time difference between Bangkok and Beijing, which makes it much easier for Thais to follow the event live from TV. The evening traffic in Bangkok did look quieter on a normally chaotic weekend.

Some 20 million Thai citizens have Chinese kinship, claimed an guest commentator who apparently has knowledge about the Chinese language and history with the Channel 3, another television station that transmitted the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony at full length.

"There is a truth when they say that 'Thailand and China are like relatives," she added, while introducing the correct pronunciations and meaning of Chinese calligraphy characters displayed on the screen and related historical facts, some of which are already familiar to Thais thanks to generations of Chinese immigrants who began settling in Thailand since centuries ago.

Though the Thais stayed out late on Friday morning for the opening, many are expected to stay tuned in on Saturday as the Olympic Games has its first day of competition for the weightlifting event -- one of the most medal-hopeful game for Thailand, which has sent a 51-strong athletic delegation to Beijing.

Four years ago, Thai women weightlifters brought home two golds and two bronzes from the Athens Olympics, the most lucrative Games ever for Thailand.

Thai Prince Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, who was in Beijing to attend Friday's opening ceremony, has booked the ticket for Saturday's weightlifting event to boost the athletes' morale.


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