Beijing was awarded the Games over four competitors on July 13, 2001, having won an absolute majority of votes from members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) after two rounds of voting. The Government of the People's Republic of China promoted the Games and invested heavily in new facilities and transportation systems. A total of 37 venues were used to host the events including 12 constructed for use at the Games. The official logo of these Olympic Games, titled "Dancing Beijing", featured a stylised calligraphic character jīng (京, meaning capital), referring to the host city. Media outlets reported unprecedented audience interest in the Games, and these Olympics had the largest television audience in Olympic history. Some politicians and non-governmental organizations criticized the choice of China as Olympic host because of the country's human rights record.
There were 43 new world records and 132 new Olympic records set at the 2008 Summer Olympics. An unprecedented 86 countries won at least one medal during the Games. Chinese athletes won the most gold medals, with 51, and 100 medals altogether, while the United States had the most medals total with 110. Michael Phelps broke the records for most gold medals in one Olympics and for most career gold medals for an Olympian by winning eight swimming events. Usain Bolt secured the traditional title of "World's Fastest Man" by setting new world records in the 100 m and 200 m sprints.