I happen to work with an Olympic opening ceremonies true expert, Richard Archambault. I asked him to share with us why he loves Olympic Opening Ceremonies so much.
Richard is a Canadian colleague of mine at Automattic -we work in my same team (whilst Allyson, whose grandpa attended Berlin 1936 Olympic Games, works in another team).
Richard loves Olympics as much as me, and he particularly loves the magic of the Olympic opening ceremonies. Since the opening and closing ceremonies are not really my cup of tea, I asked Richard to write up something about it. He managed to make me change my mind about Olympic opening ceremonies, so I hope you’ll enjoy his piece of writing.
By the way, you can find this article also on his blog!
What’s it about the Olympic opening ceremonies?
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 Olympics Opening Ceremonies for me:
- The bow and arrow that lit the cauldron in Barcelona! (Youtube video in the link)
- Muhammad Ali lighting the flame in Atlanta (Youtube video in the link)
- 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!) (Youtube video in the link)
- 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 (Youtube video in the link)
The artistic side of the Olympic opening ceremonies
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 [Winter Olympic Games in 2006, ndr], 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!