Beijing China, 2008

Legacy of the Games

All but one of the 205 National Olympic Committees in existence at the time participated in the 2008 Summer Olympics. The exception was Brunei who were disqualified in early August 2008 after failing to register either of their two athletes. Three countries made their Olympic debut in 2008 – the Marshall Islands, Montenegro and Tuvalu.

The Chinese government initiated a large programme of construction and renovation for the Games. The largest structures built were the Beijing National Indoor Stadium, Beijing National Aquatics Centre, Olympic Green Convention Centre, Beijing Wukesong Culture and Sports Centre and of course the centrepiece of the Games, the Beijing National Stadium, popularly known as the “Bird’s Nest Stadium”. Some events were held outside Beijing and six Olympic venues were renovated or built outside Beijing, as well as 59 training centres. The football competition was held in Qinhuangdao, Shanghai, Shenyang and Tianjin; the sailing took place in Qingdao and the equestrian events in Hong Kong.

Beijing’s transport infrastructure was expanded in preparation for Olympic visitors. Beijing Airport underwent major renovations with the addition of a new terminal, the world’s second largest airport terminal, designed by architect Norman Foster. Within the city itself the subway network doubled in capacity and length, with the addition of a further seven lines and 80 stations. Included in this expansion was a new subway link to the city’s airport.

One reservation expressed by several IOC delegates during the consideration of Beijing’s bid to host the Games was the air quality in the city. In an effort to address this issue the city placed restrictions on construction sites and gas stations, and on the use of commercial and passenger vehicles in Beijing itself. For the period of the Games, passenger vehicle restrictions were put in place to allow access only on alternate days, depending on the vehicle’s terminal registration digit.