US Athletes Welcomed At Olympics Opening

A spectator poses next to a mascot prior to the opening ceremony in the National Stadium at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Friday, Aug. 8, 2008. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
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Beijing (AP) The Olympic flame is now burning over Beijing.

Six-time gymnastics gold medalist Li Ning was hoisted by wires to the top of Beijing's national stadium, where he circled the top before using his torch to light the flame.

That capped the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Olympic summer games.

The U.S. team received a warm and loud welcome, but it was the Chinese team led by basketball star Yao Ming that really sent the crowd into a frenzy.

China brought up the rear in the parade of athletes at the opening ceremonies. A chanting, flag-waving crowd of 91,000,-- including President Bush and Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin -- packed Beijing's national stadium.

A sea of 2,008 drummers pounded out rhythms with their hands, and acrobats on wires dropped down into the stadium as rockets lit the night sky from its rim.

The opening ceremonies of this year's games are considered perhaps the largest and costliest in Olympic history. The pageantry and pyrotechnics herald the once-reclusive nation's emergence on the world stage.