Opening Ceremonies

It’s that time of the decade. When people make a mad scramble for tickets to the World Cup and fork over exorbitant prices to be part of the global village. I’m as excited about the FIFA World Cup in June as the next man. I predict Spain will be touted as favourites till the Semis, and the terms ‘dark horse’ together with ‘England’ will pop up several times. In the end, though, everybody knows either Germany or Brazil will win. Don’t even bring up the Azzuri here. They’re good but when your main striker is Luca Toni then even the Pope on direct line with God cannot help you.

A friend of mine was busy booking tickets to the opening ceremony yesterday. Of all the exciting games to watch, he picks 3 hours of tedium which can only be entertaining if South Africa embarrass themselves like they did during in the 2003 Cricket World Cup by dressing up the natives as giraffes and rhinos and having them run around the field in one of the most laughable affairs in living memory. If, on the other hand they choose to follow the example set by the Sydney and Beijing Olympics and more recently the Vancouver Winter Olympics, it ought to a grandiose, fascist borefest.

Am I the only one to find the goose-stepping military carrying the Olympic flag in Beijing more than mildly reminiscent of Berlin 1936 and somewhat disturbing?

It looked more like a propaganda show, starting with how they invented paper to how they are now walking on Mars. Dull as watching clay dry. Opening ceremonies usually are. The mass Mexican wave has had its day, folks, let it go.

Do you remember the opening ceremony at Sydney? Well I don’t that well, so I looked it up on Wikipedia.

“The opening ceremony began with a tribute to the Australian pastoral heritage of the muster (or “roundup”, in which the stockmen gather together the livestock from the vast areas of an Australian outback sheep or cattle station), symbolising the drawing together of people from across the world. This was introduced by a lone rider,  Steve Jefferys and his rearing Australian Stock Horse Ammo. At the cracking of Jefferys’ stockwhip, a further 120 riders entered the Stadium, their stock horses performing intricate steps, including forming the five Olympic Rings, to a special Olympics version of the theme which Bruce Rowland had previously composed for the 1982 film The Man from Snowy River.

The Australian National Anthem was sung, the first verse by Human Nature and the second by Julie Anthony.

The ceremony continued, showing many aspects of the land and its people – the affinity of the mainly coastal-dwelling Australians with the sea that surrounds the “Island Continent”, the indigenous occupation of the land, the coming of the First Fleet, the continued immigration from many nations and the rural industry on which the economy of the nation was built, including a display representing the harshness of rural life based on the paintings of Sir Sidney Nolan. Two memorable scenes were the representation of the “Heart” of the country by 200 Aboriginal women from Central Australia who danced up “the mighty spirit of God to protect the Games” and the overwhelmingly noisy representation of the construction industry by hundreds of tap-dancing teenagers.”

You’d be taking me for a fool if you told me the ceremony was a relentless adrenaline rush.

Why do they spend millions on these tedious affairs? Why can’t they just light the fucking torch and get on with it already?

First published in KIRIK 02, March 2010

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