Olympics opening ceremony footage sneaked out

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The Independent Online

The whole world now knows that something special is coming at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing.

South Korea has caused huge embarrassment by flashing tantalising images of the ceremony in spectacular technicolour, nine days before China unveils its highly secret debut at the Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium.

A South Korean television station broadcast a total 30 seconds of the sneak preview footage after a reporter with the Seoul Broadcasting system managed to walk into the National Stadium during a rehearsal on Monday.

The images, which went up on the internet last night, show stunning video of floating 3D humpback whales, kung fu fighters and trapeze gymnasts, and give a tantalising glimpse of what is to come on 8 August, despite China's best efforts to keep it secret.



In one segment, thousands of white cubes are moved by people to form waves suggesting the explosive growth of high-rise cities in China. A giant green and blue globe can be seen. Large whales will figure, as will dancers dressed as ancient soldiers from the Tomb of Unknown Warriors. Lang Lang, the great pianist, is sure to figure, as is Jackie Chan, the Hong Kong-born actor.

News of the footage did not go down well with the Beijing organisers. This is a massive breach of secrecy, sure to cause repercussions among China's fledgling television networks, as well as the Koreans who bought the rights. The Beijing Olympics spokesman, Sun Weide, said last night that the footage was obtained by "irregular means" and questioned the professional standards of the reporter.

The secrecy surrounding the opening ceremony has been so intense that design and production teams and the thousands of cast members have been required to sign confidentiality agreements. Breaches are punishable by up to seven years jail.

Tickets have sold out, but some tickets are being sold on the black market for 10 times their face value.

* Some International Olympic Committee officials made a deal to let China block sensitive websites despite promises of unrestricted web access, a senior IOC official has admitted. China had promised to allow the media freedom to report, but journalists have complained that certain sites, including that of Amnesty International, have been blocked.

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