Yet by the end of the first dressage session in the eventing competition yesterday morning, the initial euphoria stirred in many by the spectacular opening ceremony in Beijing had ebbed to boredom, and most spectators left the venue early.
By 8am, and with two hours still to go, four shuttle buses provided by the Equestrian Company had picked up about 400 people from the competition venue and returned them to University station.
As the temperatures rose, more of the nearly 10,400 spectators at the morning session began to leave. Almost two-thirds of the spectator stands were empty by 9.50am.
Many had arrived at around 4am to get through the intense security.
Some fell asleep in their seats, perhaps aided by the gentle music playing over loudspeakers.