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Beijing tests Olympic Bird's Nest
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By Keen Zhang

I have joined thousands of fans at the National Stadium, known as the "Bird's Nest", which opened to public for the first time yesterday.

There were two events; in the morning, the "Good Luck Beijing" 2008 IAAF Walking Challenge men's 20km walk; in the afternoon, the women's 20km walk. Australia's Jared Tallent won gold in the men's event and China's Liu Hong took first place in the women's. The walking race was the first event to be held in the Beijing Olympics main venue.

But yesterday most people were more interested in the stadium itself than in the sporting contest taking place. They spent most of their time manically taking pictures of the interior and exterior of the Bird's Nest, of the structure, the stands, the racetrack, pitch, just about everything.

The "Bird's Nest" itself is magnificent, even though it isn't yet complete. At the untidy temporary entrance to the Olympic park, staff are still working round the clock to finish and decorate building. Only 25,000 spectators were allowed in for the debut event. The 3.5-billion-yuan stadium will have a capacity of 100,000 when it fully opens in a few months time.

Amid traditional Chinese music, the excited voice of the announcer, camera flashes and the cheers of the spectators and cheerleaders, athletes started their run inside the stadium before moving onto the road route outside the venue. The public fell in love with five adorable life-like Fuwa mascots, while two big screens on the roof of the Bird's Nest ran Olympic promotional films and scenes of the athletes racing outside the stadium.

Polite and enthusiastic volunteers ready to patiently answer any question, and 130,000 notices made it easy to find your seat despite the throngs.

However, tight and sluggish security checks meant a long and anxious wait outside for many thousands. It was only in the afternoon, one hour after the women's match had started, that all the spectators finally made it into the ground.

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