A version of this article appeared on my colleague’s site
I am a really big fan of the Olympic Games, and my favourite part of them is the Opening Ceremonies. Don’t get me wrong: I’ll be stuck to the TV / Live Streams / Social Media until the Olympic cauldron is extinguished! But I really love the Opening Ceremonies, and I don’t miss them for anything. I always take vacation from work during the Olympics, and I make sure to watch it, no matter what time of day or night!
What is it about the ceremonies that gets me, though? Well, I really like the more traditional parts of it. The anticipation to see who will light the cauldron. The raising of the Olympic flag. The fact that French is always used (an homage to Pierre de Coubertin). The declaration that the Games are now open. And of course, the Parade of Nations. I love seeing the athletes from smaller delegations walk in, looking so happy to be there, representing the country and their sport.
Some of the highlights from past Opening Ceremonies for me:
- The bow and arrow that lit the cauldron in Barcelona!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sU89ZmB71rc
- Muhammad Ali lighting the flame in Atlanta:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmzr3tZSHxU
- The Australian women athletes who passed the torch around, and then Cathy Freeman (an Australian Indigenous person) actually lighting the flame (even though there was a malfunction!)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWXT6VyD10M
- East Timor joining the Games for the first time in Athens
- North and South Korea entering under one flag in Sydney
- Wayne Gretzky lighting the outdoor cauldron in Vancouver, and the later joke about the malfunction during the closing ceremonies:https://youtu.be/EYlCGQ628gE?t=36m14s
On the artistic side of the ceremonies, it’s always impressive to see how each country views their own history and culture, and how the choose to show it to the world. In Torino, the homage to Dante, and Pavarotti:
In Athens, the history of Greece through its art. In Beijing, the Chinese opera. Every country shows off what it considers to be the best parts of itself. I am very much looking forward to some Samba in Rio’s ceremony!
Featured image by Ian Patterson (IMG_3915) CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons