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Beijing begins Olympic countdown

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BEIJING, China (CNN) -- Beijing residents gathered across China's capital on August 8 to witness events marking the start of the one-year countdown to the 2008 Olympic Games.

The main event of the day will be the gala celebration at Tiananmen Square, where troops put down the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations with huge loss of life.

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Olympic chief Jacques Rogge will be on hand with Chinese political leaders to watch a countdown clock run down to exactly 366 days to go -- 2008 is a leap year -- at 8:08 p.m. (1208 GMT) on the eighth day of the eighth month, an auspicious date and time.

The International Olympic Committee president will also host a ceremony in which more than 200 countries and regions will be formally invited to take part in next year's Games. Video Watch CNN's exclusive interview with Jacques Rogge » E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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