The Politics of the Opening Ceremonies

When the Olympic Games were revived more than a century ago, they were a little different than they are today. The 1900 Paris Olympics, for instance, included events that resembled summer camp amusements more than sports. There was Olympic croquet, tug-of-war, and the obstacle swim, in which competitors had to dive under and climb over rows of boats. The games began without speeches, a parade, or a torch. There were no fireworks at all.

Nowadays, the sports have gone extreme—BMX and white-water canoeing—and the Olympics begin with puppets and pyrotechnics. The opening ceremony has become an integral part of the games. It is the Olympics, in a sense. It celebrates the ideals of the games, ideals of participation, peace, and sport for sport’s sake. When the athletes parade around the track, it is not about the winning or losing of schoolyard contests but rather about the camaraderie of nations…. Read the rest at RL.

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