In the early 20th century, to become a member of the Olympic family was only a dream for the Chinese. Before the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, Chinese athletes had participated in three Olympic Games but had returned empty-handed. Since 1949, China has participated in six summer and seven winter Olympics, winning 112 gold medals in summer Olympics. At the Los Angeles, Barcelona and Atlanta Olympics, China came fourth in the gold medals table, and second at the Athens Olympics.
In 1979 China resumed its legitimate membership on the International Olympic Committee (IOC). In 1981 He Zhenliang was elected an IOC member, marking a new period in relations between China and the Olympics and cooperation with the IOC. From then on, Chinese sports circles started to popularize and promote the Olympics. An important part of their work was to have the Chinese people, representing one fifth of the world's population, share the honor and joy of hosting the Olympic Games, thus reflecting the Olympic principle of extensiveness. In July 2001, Beijing finally succeeded in its bid to bring the 2008 Olympic Games to the ancient capital with a 3,000 year history, The Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG), established at the end of 2001, set the themes for the 2008 Games as "Green Olympics", "High-tech Olympics" and "Humanistic Olympics". Since December 2003, 30 Olympic venues have been started, following public bidding for their design and construction. Seven venues, including the National Stadium and the National Swimming Center, are of exquisite and ingenuous design, ushering in a new period of poetic architecture for Beijing. The centerpiece of the 2008 Games will be the "the bird's nest" National Stadium. With a capacity of 100,000 spectators, the stadium will host the opening and closing ceremonies as well as track-and-field events.
According to the budget released by BOCOG in September 2003, construction of the venues will cost about US$2 billion and the financing system framework has been basically determined. The Beijing Municipal Government is confident of "making the 2008 Games one of the best Olympics in history." To this end, Beijing will spend 180 billion yuan on infrastructure construction, much of the expenditure devoted to 142 large-scale projects including high speed transportation networks, environmental improvements and creation of information systems. Another plan is to exploit the experience of preparing and hosting the 2008 Olympics to make Beijing into an international sports center.