On 13 July 2001, a nation of 1.3 billion people heaved a collective sigh of relief as the International Olympic Committee (IOC), meeting in Moscow, announced which city would host the 2008 Olympics: Beijing, China.
After the first round of voting by the IOC, only Beijing, Toronto, Paris, and Istanbul had remained in contention; Osaka was eliminated after having received only six votes. In the second round Beijing received an absolute majority of votes—with fifty-six—and no subsequent voting was required. Although some people claimed that the bids from Paris and Toronto were technically superior, the IOC, under Juan Antonio Samaranch, was eager to see China, the world’s most populous country, host the Olympics. Although many nations praised the decision, a few groups objected, arguing that China’s human rights issues made the nation unfit for the honor. To quell such objections, the city of Beijing chose the motto “New Beijing, Great Olympics” 新北京, 新奥运 to emphasize the country’s move toward a new image for the new millennium.