July 28, 2012
LONDON CALLING (DAY 4)
Watching the opening ceremonies far, far away
By Michael Lewis
GLASGOW -- Today's Olympic trivia question is:
What do Birmingham, Ala.; Melbourne, Australia; Thessaloniki, Greece; Tianjin, China; and this particular Scottish city have in common?
They all are cities where I have watched the Olympic opening ceremonies on TV since 1996.
Because my specialty is soccer, I have usually found myself on the road, covering either the U.S. men or women, and since the American women are based here for their first two matches, I was some 340 miles away from London.
There was no need to take a flight of a train to London. I was quite content in watching from my hotel room, considering Friday night's ceremonies ended almost at 1 a.m. local time. NBC did not televise the ceremonies live -- they started at 9 p.m. here (they started so late because they wanted the sky to be dark for the show), instead showing it during prime time.
You can read the myraid of stories on the internet on how majestic the opening ceremonies were, but I will give you a quick review.
Now, I know we should not compare it to Beijing, where seemingly half the population was used in those ceremonies. But I have to admit, I was not blown away by it.
Overall, I think something lost its translation on TV or at least the camera angles failed to capture the entire experience -- which many local media claimed was awesome -- when the entire middle of the stadium was used. Instead, there were too many close ups. And sometimes it was too British (besides the 80,000 at Olympic Stadium an estimated one billion watched the extraganza worldwide).
Saying that, there certainly were memorable moments.
The conversion of the middle of the stadium from green fields to the industrial area certainly was impressive, as was the building of the Olympic rings. The tribute to music wasn't as enjoyable as it could have been as they went from song to song too quickly.
I liked the video with the Queen and James Bond, comedian Rowan Atkinson during the Chariots of Fire number (if you can't have a little laugh, then you are not human).
The tribute to the 52 people who perished during the terrorist bombings in London on July 7, 2005 was poignant. Remember, that tragedy occurred only a day after London was awarded these Summer Games.
Using young, promising athletes to light the torch was inspired a literal passing of the torch from the older to the younger generation. The Olympic cauldron is in the middle of the stadium. Of course, they have to move it before events there commence because I think they might get in the way of the track and field proceedings.
Paul McCartney finished off the ceremonies with "Hey, Jude," which he implored the 80,000-strong at the stadium to sing along. Now, I don't want to reveal my age, but I actually remember when "Hey Jude" was released by the Beatles way back in 1968.
Well, Queen Elizabeth declared the games open on Friday night. But she was wrong. They already have begun with the soccer competition. Wonder if she gave an special dispensation to that sport?
Seriously, I've got a game to cover today. If the U.S.'s encounter with Colombia is close to its 4-2 comeback win over France on Wednesday, it should be a good one.
The game time forecast calls for temperatures of around 56 degrees and the threat of showers.
It definitely sounds like a long sleeve night and a jacket with an umbrella tucked away.
I've never had to wear such "warm" clothes at a Summer Olympics, but I guess there's a first time for everything.