Skip to Content

2008 Summer Olympics

« Back to Glossary Index

**Organization and Bid:**
– Beijing was elected as the host city for the 2008 Summer Olympics in 2001, defeating Toronto, Paris, Istanbul, and Osaka.
– Factors in Beijing’s selection included its size, doping controls, and sympathy over losing the 2000 bid.
– Concerns over human rights and air quality were raised by Amnesty International and politicians.
– Total spending on the Games was reported to be around $15 billion, with later estimates reaching $40 to $44 billion.
– Beijing had previously lost the 2000 bid to Sydney by two votes.
– Broad international support, China’s assistance to developing nations, and doping controls influenced the decision.
– Concerns over human rights and air quality in Beijing were addressed in the bid application.
– The total costs of the Games were initially reported as $15 billion but later estimates exceeded $40 billion.

**Venues and Infrastructure:**
– Construction of all 31 Beijing-based Olympic venues began by May 2007.
– Six venues were renovated or constructed outside Beijing, along with 59 training facilities.
– Major structures included the Beijing National Stadium, Beijing National Indoor Stadium, and Beijing National Aquatics Center.
– Corporate bids and tenders funded 85% of the construction budget for the main venues.
– Events were also held in cities like Qinhuangdao, Shanghai, Shenyang, and Tianjin, as well as Qingdao for sailing.
– Beijing’s transportation infrastructure expanded for visitors.
– Major renovation of Beijing airport with the addition of Terminal 3.
– Beijing subway doubled in capacity and length.
– Restrictions placed on construction sites and gas stations.
– Passenger vehicle restrictions based on license plate terminal digit.

**Records and Achievements:**
– The 2008 Olympics featured 10,942 athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees.
– China won the most gold medals (48), and the United States won the highest number of medals overall (112).
– A total of 87 countries won at least one medal during the Games.
– Numerous world and Olympic records were set during the 2008 Olympics.
– Beijing became the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Games, hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics.

**Cultural Impact and Marketing:**
– The official logo for the 2008 Games was titled Dancing Beijing, featuring the Chinese character for ‘capital.’
– The opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympics was widely praised as one of the greatest in Olympic history.
– The Games were watched by 3.5 billion people worldwide.
– The 2008 Olympics marked the return of the Summer Games to Asia after the 1988 Olympics in South Korea.
– Several countries won their first-ever Olympic medals at the 2008 Games, including Mongolia and Panama winning their first gold medals.
– The 2008 Olympics emblem was known as Dancing Beijing, with the official motto being ‘One World, One Dream.’
– Mascots of Beijing 2008 were five Fuwa representing Olympic rings colors.
– Release of sport icons named ‘the beauty of seal characters.’

**Media Coverage and Mascots:**
– The 2008 Games were produced and broadcast entirely in high definition.
– Beijing’s commitment to no restrictions on media reporting.
– Discrepancies in meeting media reporting commitments.
– 4.7 billion viewers worldwide tuned in to television coverage.
– American broadcaster NBC produced approximately 2,200 hours of coverage.
– Mascots named Fuwa were created by Han Meilin, combining to form ‘Beijing Welcomes You.’
– Release of The Olympic Adventures of Fuwa in 2007.

The 2008 Summer Olympics (Chinese: 2008年夏季奥运会; pinyin: Èr Líng Líng Bā Nián Xiàjì Àoyùnhuì), officially the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (Chinese: 第二十九届夏季奥林匹克运动会; pinyin: Dì Èrshíjiǔ Jiè Xiàjì Àolínpǐkè Yùndònghuì) and also known as Beijing 2008 (Chinese: 北京2008; pinyin: Běijīng èr líng líng bā), were an international multisport event held from 8 to 24 August 2008, in Beijing, China. A total of 10,942 athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) competed in 28 sports and 302 events, one event more than those scheduled for the 2004 Summer Olympics. This was the first time China had hosted the Olympic Games, and the third time the Summer Olympic Games had been held in East Asia, following the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, and the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. These were also the second Summer Olympic Games to be held in a communist state, the first being the 1980 Summer Olympics in the Soviet Union (with venues in Russia, Ukraine, Byelorussia, and Estonia).

Games of the XXIX Olympiad
Emblem of the 2008 Summer Olympics
Host cityBeijing, China
MottoOne World, One Dream
(同一个世界 同一个梦想; Tóng yīge shìjìe tóng yīge mèngxiǎng)
Athletes10,899 (6,290 men, 4,609 women)
Events302 in 28 sports (41 disciplines)
Opening8 August 2008
Closing24 August 2008
Opened by
StadiumBeijing National Stadium
2008 Summer Paralympics

Beijing was awarded the 2008 Games over four competitors on 13 July 2001, having won a majority of votes from members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) after two rounds of voting. The Government of the People's Republic of China promoted the 2008 Games and invested heavily in new facilities and transport systems. 37 venues were used to host the events, including twelve constructed specifically for the 2008 Games. The equestrian events were held in Hong Kong, making these the third Olympics for which the events were held under the jurisdiction of two different NOCs. The sailing events were contested in Qingdao, while the football events took place across several different cities.

The official logo for the 2008 Games, titled "Dancing Beijing" (舞动北京), created by Guo Chunning (郭春宁), featured the Chinese character for capital (, stylized into the shape of a human being) in reference to the host city. The 2008 Olympics were watched by 3.5 billion people worldwide, and featured the longest distance for an Olympic Torch relay. The 2008 Games also set numerous world and Olympic records, and were the most expensive Summer Olympics of all time, and the second most expensive overall, after the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. The opening ceremony was lauded by spectators and numerous international presses as spectacular, spellbinding, and by many accounts, "the greatest ever in the history of Olympics". Beijing hosted the 2022 Winter Olympics, making it the first city ever to host both the Summer and Winter Games.

An unprecedented 87 countries won at least one medal during the 2008 Games. Host nation China won the most gold medals (48), and became the seventh different team to top an overall Summer Olympics medal tally, winning a total of 100 medals overall. The United States placed second in the gold medal tally but won the highest number of medals overall (112). The third place in the gold medal tally was achieved by Russia.

This Olympic Games marked the return of the Summer Olympic Games to Asia after the 1988 Olympics in South Korea. It was the first Olympics for Serbia as a separate state since 1912 and the first ever for Montenegro, having separated from Serbia in 2006. It was also the first Olympics for Nepal as a republic, the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu. Mongolia and Panama each won their first ever Olympic gold medal. In addition, Afghanistan, Mauritius, Serbia, Sudan, Tajikistan and Togo won their first ever Olympic medals at these Games. North Korea, having symbolically marched with South Korea as one team at the opening ceremonies of the preceding three Games that it entered (2000 in Sydney, 2004 in Athens, and 2006 in Turin), paraded separately this time.

« Back to Glossary Index