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Page last updated at 14:29 GMT, Saturday, 12 July 2008 15:29 UK

Schedule - Friday 8 August

All times BST. Beijing is seven hours ahead of the UK.

Opening ceremony

1245-1645 BST, Beijing National Stadium.

The Beijing Olympics will officially start on 08:08:08 (8pm on the 8th day of the 8th month) because the number eight is regarded as extremely auspicious by the Chinese.

That is because its pronunciation in Cantonese sounds the same as the word for 'to make money'.

Details of the ceremony, which will take place in Beijing's famous Bird's Nest stadium and last three hours, are a tightly-guarded secret.

Chinese film director Zhang Yimou, famous for films such as Hero and House of Flying Daggers, is directing both the opening and closing ceremonies.

Zhang has been rehearsing with up to 10,000 participants in Beijing and told interviews earlier in the year he was most worried about rain spoiling his plans.

US President George W Bush will attend the ceremony but some world leaders are missing it.

Germany's Angela Merkel is not attending the Olympics. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will be in Beijing only for the closing ceremony, which will feature a lengthy section for the handover to London 2012.



see also
Bush to attend Olympic ceremony
04 Jul 08 |  Asia-Pacific

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