09/08/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

A Snapshot of the Olympic Green 48 Hours Before the Games Begin

The energy at the International Broadcast Center two days before the opening ceremony is frenetic.

Teams of broadcasters, technicians and personnel scramble in and out trying to configure their studios and crews in an unfamiliar country as the clock counts down to 8.8.08.

Many pause at the lobby's Main Help Desk where BOCOG volunteers field questions put forward in multiple languages and diverse accents.

"Can I move to the short white cab?" a man with an Eastern-European accent asks a Chinese volunteer. I step in to assist and together we realize he wants to walk to the golf carts that shuttle staff and journalists around the Olympic Green. We point him in the right direction.

Two Chileans come up searching for a piece of lumber with which to build another desk for their office. They speak a combination of English and Chinese. We give them the contact number of the relevant BOCOG department.

As volunteers, our responsibility is to answer each question as soon as possible without passing it on. Ideally, we want each person's experience operating and broadcasting at IBC to feel as smooth as working in his or her own country. Our desk is open 24 hours.

While some visitors seem more comfortable working with native English speakers like myself, my Chinese colleagues do a very good job of identifying needs and offering solutions. Most of what I know I learn from watching them.

Like the broadcasters busily looking for transportation, hotels, stadiums, phone numbers, press conference briefs and practice schedules as they prepare for their news reports, my Chinese team is earnestly awaiting the opening ceremony on August 8.

My manager confides that from now to August 9 will be the most crucial to China. Only after that time can she relax.

She need not worry about the world's reaction to the opening ceremony and athletic facilities. Recent leaks about Tuesday's dress rehearsal paint a picture of elegance, extravagance and accuracy.

As for venues like the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube, photos fail to do justice to their spectacle of lights. Last night I walked through an unusually mild Beijing evening right up to the aquatics center and stadium.

The Water Cube is a magnificent work. Its exterior is a patchwork of illuminated hexagons, not unlike a soccer ball, that ripple back and forth between shades of blue, purple, aqua, pink and green.

At night, the Bird's Nest glows with supernatural red and yellow lights that make its crisscrossing steel arms look all the more compelling.

Tonight, small groups of people tour the enormous plaza separating the two landmarks. Enya blasts from a sound system that seems to come from the heavens, and rays of water shoot up from the ground, performing a choreographed dance. Near Ling Long Pagoda, NBC's The Today Show finalizes set up.

In this calm before the games begin, I imagine the grounds alive with a sea of eager spectators.

To an impartial observer, the weeks of preparation at the Olympic Green and IBC are falling into place. Now, with two days to go, the only thing Beijing needs to hope for is good weather.

Read more HuffPost coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games