Technology amazes the world at Beijing 2022 opening ceremony

By Wang Yiming
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, February 9, 2022
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Photo taken on Feb. 4, 2022, shows fireworks in the shape of the Olympic Rings over the National Stadium during the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, the capital of China. (Xinhua/Wang Jingqiang)

Almost 14 years after the memorable spectacles of the 2008 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, Beijing's National Stadium once again staged an Olympic opening ceremony for the 2022 Winter Games on Feb. 4. In a bid to ensure a "simple, safe and splendid" Games, the inaugural event was an understated yet spectacular show of artistry and technology.

On a massive ice cube rising from the floor, laser beams appeared to carve out the imagery of the previous 23 Olympic Winter Games hosts and ended with a projection of "Beijing China." Later, the Olympic rings emerged after hockey players broke the ice block with virtual pucks. Finally, the Olympic torch was inserted into the middle of a giant snowflake and hoisted into the sky. These breath-taking scenes were realized by cutting-edge technologies, including 5G, Artificial Intelligence, VR, AR, glasses-free 3D, and cloud technology.

Photo taken on Feb. 4, 2022, shows a cauldron holding the Olympic flame during the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games at the National Stadium in Beijing, the capital of China. (Xinhua/Wu Wei)

Chang Yu, director of the opening and closing ceremonies department at the Beijing 2022 organizing committee, said at a press conference on Feb. 5 that the perfect fit between 3,000 performers and the advanced technologies and equipment was a crucial feature of the opening ceremony.

"We tried to realize the artistic vision of the directing team through cutting-edge technologies and equipment, to showcase the image of China as a major country with a global vision," said Mao Jiawei, deputy head of the leadership group of Winter Olympics Projects at the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation First Academy 15th Research Institute.

In a recent interview with, Mao introduced that multiple aerospace technologies were employed in the opening ceremony performance, for example, the motion simulation technology of significant mechanism components and servo-motor drive system.

"The total weight of the ice cube was 400 tons, and we had to lift it to a height of 10 meters," Mao said. The lifting load reached 180 tons, about 120 times heavier than a car. At the same time, to realize the scene where the ice cube breaks apart, revealing the crystal Olympic rings, "we needed to connect the 3.2-ton Olympic rings structure hidden in the ice cube with the wires from high above the stadium."

Photo taken on Feb. 4, 2022, shows the Olympic rings during the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games opening ceremony at the National Stadium in Beijing, the capital of China. (Xinhua/Wu Wei)

"Precise motor control over such huge moving structures is tough, and it is somewhat similar to the launch of carrier rockets. Simultaneous control of multiple reliable and stable motor systems is also needed," Mao noted, saying that the simulation technology and other technical means helped reduce the cost of real-life experimentation.

In addition, to ensure the safety and stability of the Olympic rings structure in the air, the design team used lightweight and high-strength composite materials for the carrier rocket to reduce the structure weight as much as possible.

The supercomputing power of aerospace systems also came in handy. "To make sure that the national flag could be blown flat when raised during the opening ceremony, we used supercomputing technology to calculate and forecast the wind direction, speed, temperature, and other factors in the National Stadium that may impact the rising of the flag," Mao said. 

According to him, the sensing technology employed to confirm the position of the performers when they moved on the stage comprised of 11,600 square meters of high-definition LED screen to ensure their safety. 

Mao said these were just some aerospace technology applications. In addition, a complex system engineering management approach from the aerospace sector was used throughout the whole preparatory process to see that the opening ceremony went ahead without any glitches. 

Mao believed that compared with the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, this year's event featured more reliable technology, rather than "huge-crowd strategy," with only some 3,000 performers, around a fifth of the total cast for the 2008 Games. 

In his view, apart from the display of Chinese culture, the 2022 Winter Olympics demonstrate China's ambition, confidence, and vision as a global player. "For example, the portray of ‘breaking the ice' symbolized breaking down of walls and fostering peace and understanding."

Regarding the closing ceremony, Mao revealed that the Olympic rings of the 2008 and 2022 Games would be displayed on the same stage, reflecting Beijing's role as the first city to host both winter and summer Games. 

The construction steel used during the opening and closing ceremonies will be recycled in other areas, such as constructing facilities in experimental spacecraft launch bases. 

"I feel fortunate and proud to be able to participate in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, which showcases China's strong national strength, its new development concept of innovation, coordination, greenness, openness, and sharing, and its willingness to be a global force for good," he said.

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