When Bigger Isn’t Always Better: The Olympics Opening Ceremony
In case you live under a rock and don’t know, the Olympics are under way. I haven’t been able to watch as much as I would like to, but I’ve been able to catch most of the opening ceremony and a good bit of the gymnastics. I’m sure that my next few posts will be Olympics related, but I wanted to talk about the opening ceremony a bit.
Let’s be honest, it was no Beijing. That seems to be the theme of most of the comments about it. Of course it was no Beijing. Not even Beijing could be Beijing again. That was huge. It was a spectacle If you hold London’s ceremony next to Beijing, of course it fell short.
But London wasn’t suppose to be a spectacle. Whether it’s that they knew they couldn’t top it or they just didn’t care about the comparison, London’s opening ceremony was not suppose to be a show. It was suppose to be a celebration of people, regular people. They involved individuals and groups of people who are not the elite athletes of the world and would have never expected to say they were a part of the Olympics. The ceremony was about the little guy. And when you look at it that way, they did a fabulous job.
The whole fields to industrial revolution thing dragged on and was kind of cheesy, but the transformation itself was pretty impressive I have to say. The Queen jumping out of a helicopter was also a bit of a stretch, but I give her serious kudos for being involved. I appreciated the homage to the children’s stories as well as their medical professionals, but I have to say my favorite part of the whole thing was the end when they lit the Olympic torch.
The final lighting of the torch is always a bit of a dramafest, with lots of speculation as to which already recognized figure will be granted the honor. London took a different direction and, instead of selection one well-known individual, gave the honor to 7 up and coming athletes nominated by former Olympic champions. The 7 of them ran with one torch in a relay style around the arena, actively sharing the honor with each other, before they were each given their own torches that were used to light the cauldron. But it wasn’t a cauldron, not yet. It was 205 individual torches, one for each country, which were lit by these young people (and a chain reaction trigger), then raised up to form the bowl that is the single cauldron. This really was the confirmation that London’s ceremony was more about the people and the reason for the games than a shock and awe factor.
This single moment is what makes me say this opening ceremony is not just better than Beijing, but the best I’ve seen. Too much nowadays any event meant to be seen is just a contest to be bigger than the last. London being a smaller show gave it a bigger impact and more meaning. Whatever the reasoning for taking this route, I don’t much care, but my hat is off to you for respecting and honoring the people who make the event what it is.