A brief look at mem­o­rable mo­ments from re­cent Olympic open­ing cer­e­monies

Cape Breton Post - - REFLECTIONS -

VAN­COU­VER (CP) — The fes­tiv­i­ties at Van­cou­ver’s cav­ernous B.C. Place sta­dium Fri­day marked the first time the open­ing cer­e­monies for an Olympic Games have been held in an in­door venue.

As the Olympics have evolved, open­ing cer­e­monies have be­come in­creas­ingly elab­o­rate. A look at some mem­o­rable mo­ments from se­lect cer­e­monies from the re­cent past:

1984 Sum­mer Games, Los An­ge­les — Th­ese open­ing cer­e­monies re­ceive a splash of fiery Hol­ly­wood panache as pi­lot Bill Suitor thun­ders into the sta­dium rid­ing a Bell Aerosys­tems jet­pack. The then-cut­ting edge tech­nol­ogy en­thrals those in at­ten­dance, with U.S. com­men­ta­tors call­ing him the “Rocket Man.”

1992 Sum­mer Games, Barcelona — The open­ing cer­e­monies close with one of the most spec­tac­u­lar caul­dron-light­ings in Olympic his­tory, as Par­a­lympic archer An­to­nio Re­bollo lights the flame by shoot­ing a burn­ing ar­row high into the air. It’s soon re­vealed that Re­bollo was or­dered to ac­tu­ally over­shoot the caul­dron rather than risk hit­ting a spec­ta­tor be­low.

1996 Sum­mer Games, At­lanta — Muham­mad Ali ma­te­ri­al­izes out of the dark in front of a fren­zied crowd in At­lanta to light the torch. The im­age of the box­ing icon and one-time gold medal­list, dressed in white from head to toe and wav­ing to the crowd while clutch­ing the torch with his right hand, be­comes the most en­dur­ing of th­ese Games.

2000 Sum­mer Games, Syd­ney — Cathy Free­man, soon to be­come the sec­ond-ever Aus­tralian Abo­rig­i­nal Olympic gold medal­list, roars into Olympic Sta­dium to light the caul­dron. She car­ries the torch up a steep flight of stairs and into a cir­cu­lar pool of wa­ter, where she ig­nites the caul- dron and watches it rise around her and above her head.

2002 Win­ter Games, Salt Lake City — In the first Olympic Games fol­low­ing the Sept. 11, 2001, ter­ror­ist at­tacks, New York po­lice of­fi­cer Daniel Ro­driguez sings Amer­ica the Beau­ti­ful to a grate­ful crowd.

2004 Sum­mer Games, Athens — With 72,000 fans in at­ten­dance, the 2004 Sum­mer Games get off to a daz­zling start as the Olympic rings are slowly set ablaze in the cen­tre of a mas­sive fi­bre­glass pool con­structed in the cen­tre of the sta­dium.

2006 Win­ter Games, Torino — A gleam­ing red Fer­rari For­mula One car pro­vides the sig­na­ture mo­ment of th­ese Games, glid­ing down in front of the crowd be­fore pulling off a dizzy­ing ar­ray of donuts and burnouts, cloud­ing the sta­dium with a plume of ex­haust. Ath­letes stand­ing nearby later ad­mit they were fear­ful as the fiery red car spun around wildly.

2008 Sum­mer Games, Bei­jing — Or­ga­niz­ers pull off an awein­spir­ing cer­e­mony, re­plete with the rhyth­mic roar of 2,008 peo­ple drum­ming in uni­son and Chi­nese gym­nast Li Ning run­ning around the rim of the sta­dium with the torch while sus­pended with wires.

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