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The 2008 Summer Games are the biggest global sports competition ever, and the superlatives don't end there

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The 2008 Summer Games are the biggest global sports competition ever, and the superlatives don't end there

The Olympics have become a symbol of China's emergence as a global power. Spending $43 billion—three times the cost of the 2004 Athens Games—Beijing hopes to give the world the biggest Olympic spectacle ever; its torch traveled farthest, its tickets are the cheapest, and it's being broadcast the most widely. From the impressive design of sporting venues such as the National Stadium, known as the "Bird's Nest," and the translucent Water Cube, to the multimillion-dollar opening ceremonies orchestrated by China's premier film director, Zhang Yimou, to the jade-inlaid medals, China is pulling out all the stops.

Here are some of the ways the Beijing Games are the biggest ever.