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Antoine Cormery is following the Olympic torch on its way from Greece to Beijing. Follow him across five continents during his weekly show "On the Road to Beijing". Read his notebook and send him your questions on this page.
Paris, Wednesday April 30
The Chinese human rights record tends to give a bad image to the Chinese people. Individually, however, the Chinese never miss an opportunity to smile and be warm with tourists. They are always there to give advice to foreigners or help them with directions.. An attitude Parisian taxi drivers should take as an example!
Far from the noise of the city in the Sky’s
To move around
Preparation day for the programme ‘On the Road to
I rediscover the city I left five months ago when the torch arrived in
Boarding at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport headed to
Paris, Wednesday April 30
How do you say "at last" in Chinese? This Wednesday, the Olympic torch has finally arrived in
Tuesday, April 29
Met with New China wire journalist Ming Yan, based in
Sunday, April 13
The torch makes its way around
In fact, I think that the big error the Chinese made was that they were trying to prove too much. They wanted to have the longest torch itinerary in the history of the Games. But they soon forgot that
Friday, April 11
Today is the third episode of “On the Road to
Thursday, April 10
I ask myself: If the
Paris, Monday 7 April
It’s only on TV that you can actually see the Olympic torch in Paris. The security and police escort is such that it’s impossible to see the torch for real. Difficult to describe the chaos. The crowd is becoming hysterical. The Chinese probably regret organizing this Olympic relay which still has a long way to go.
Paris, Sunday 6 April
The official sponsor of the Olympic flame, the Chinese computer manufacturer, Lenovo, is organizing a dinner at the Eiffel tower. The company’s aim is to present the torchbearers it has chosen amongst those who have to run through the streets of Paris the following day. The sportsmen receive their “Olympic packages” with Adidas T-shirts which bear the logo of the Beijing Olympic games. The mood is strange. We should be partying but we are not. Everybody is chatting about the scuffles in London this afternoon and already feel that the Paris relay will be even more chaotic.
Boycott or no boycott? Whenever we mention the possibility of a boycott of the opening ceremony - or indeed of the entire Games - the answer from the local people is invariably the same: “Why should there be a boycott? Living standards have risen in the country, everyone is happy, there are no problems. It is the West that’s making a fuss, because it is jealous of
We are recording this weekend’s show in front of the Olympic stadium, a 20 minutes ride from the city centre. The building is a magnificent sight. It was designed by Swiss architecture aces Jacques Herzog and Pierre Meuron, whose other masterpieces include
We have a meeting at 7:30 am, in front of the Games' international press centre on a large Beijing avenue. I bump into French media colleagues: Pascal Golomer, France 2’s correspondent in China, and TF1's Christopher Gascard. Some buses are provided to take us to the square. Before we get on board, they meticulously check (twice rather than once) that our badges match our passports. But no, Robert Menard of Reporters Without Borders, who disturbed the lighting of the Olympic flame in Greece, is not with us today!
The press officer, an American in his fourth Olympics, encourages us to pass by the restroom, as once we are seated there will be no access to toilets and we will be there for hours!
We leave by bus and arrive at Tiananmen. What strikes me most is my Chinese cameraman, who had never set eyes on the "forbidden city" before now… forbidden to tourists no doubt! Under Mao’s large portrait, the doors are closed. Access is controlled and to get to the site of the ceremonies you have to go through security checks, like in an airport. Even the dancers who will participate in the show have to go through them.
The press is grouped on the platform. The guests are carefully seated and at 10:58 am the president arrives. The ceremony can begin under CCTV cameras, the official television source. Fortunately they’re filming the event, as the average Chinese citizen cannot attend the show live. He or she has to make do with the televised version, yet with a slight time-lag to offset any untimely occurrence.
At 11:45 am, the official ceremony is over after a spectacular and colourful show. All has gone well, with no repeat of the affront in Olympia. Yet, with the Olympic torch due to cover another 137,000 kilometres, much could still happen.
Beijing, Sunday, March 30, 2008
We have no idea whether we’ll get access to Tiananmen Square tomorrow morning for the arrival of the Olympic torch. There’s a lot of uncertainty on the part of the organizing committee, who refer all international press to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There is a vivid sense of nervousness in the air. Finally, we are given badges to attend the event with all the international press.
I arrive in town two years after my last visit. I was expecting to see Olympic flags everywhere lining the large avenues, but there is so much dust as a result of the construction and pollution that they’ve probably decided to wait until the last minute before putting up the white banners with five coloured rings.
The area around the Olympic stadium is still under construction. Right now, it’s a weekend attraction for Chinese families. They take photos in large numbers. The construction, which looks like a bird’s nest, is beautiful and spectacular.