Sunday, June 24, 2018
Sports

Olympic ceremonies known for making quite a splash

It's almost game time in Rio, but first, there's the pageantry of the Olympic opening ceremony.

Always splashy affairs, the parade of athletes this time around will take place Friday night at Maracanã Stadium with a country-by-country show of fashion, along with speeches, flag-raising and the lighting of the Olympic cauldron.

For now, enjoy these moments from opening ceremonies of Summer Olympics past:

London 2012

First, there was the green of the English countryside, then along came the queen.

Queen Elizabeth II "parachuted" into the stadium with James Bond, the one that's Daniel Craig. Craig played himself after a fictional trip from Buckingham Palace to the stadium. The queen, obviously, did not actually take flight.

More slapstick ensued when "Mr. Bean" actor Rowan Atkinson performed the theme from Chariots of Fire with the London Symphony Orchestra.

Oh, and who lit the cauldron? Not David Beckham. He bowed out after failing to make the soccer squad. Seven young athletes instead did the honor.

Beijing 2008

Dazzling doesn't begin to cover it.

First, more than 2,000 drummers played the Fou, a traditional Chinese instrument. They were followed by 10,000 highly rehearsed performers after giant Olympic rings sprang from the floor of the stadium. In all, there were more than 18,000 performers.

There were many fireworks, including some that were computer simulated. Lots of openers have fireworks, but they were invented in China some 2,000 years ago, so there's that.

The ceremony represented everything from the silk road to chanting disciples of Confucius. This was a BIG opening ceremony.

Sydney 2000

Well, the Man from Snowy River scared his horse with the crack of a whip to open this opening ceremony, followed by a little girl who conked out in the middle of the stadium to introduce a dream sequence featuring huge jellyfish and other sea life.

But the best part was the last torchbearer, who waded into water and seemingly lit a soggy, spaceship-like cauldron on fire as she stood in the center. It was then airlifted on a set of tracks amid waterfalls and fireworks.

Did I mention there were people on horses? Some even galloped into circles to form the Olympic rings.

Los Angeles 1984

A dude arrived by jet pack. 'nuf said. The Jetsons generation had been patient.

Moscow 1980

Ah, the year of the U.S.-led Olympic boycott. Just 80 countries participated.

It also was the year of the stackable human. Pyramids of gymnasts and dancers constructed towers, including one with participants all in white surrounded by a circle of other participants on the ground in pink.

Another human construction came in yellow, with mad respect for the performers in the middle who had to lean out and hang upside down as the shape of the bodies fanned out.

A "children's show" featured legions of other humans dressed as brown bears dancing and prancing before even more legions of humans in white shorts danced and pranced on white-headed hobbyhorses.

It wasn't real, kids, but you might want to not look at it on YouTube.

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