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Olympic Games Opening Ceremony Part 2

As the Chinese veterans parade the Olympic flag around the Bird's Nest Stadium, I reflect on how many charming traditions have grown up around the Olympiads. The parade of all the athletes may be interminable for many viewers but no-one is obliged to watch it and it is hugely rewarding for the participants. The flag itself is a powerful symbol and I am warmed by the celebration of past athletes inherent in its parading by retired athletes. The public oaths reaffirm the fundamental values of the Games; an optimistic survival for more than a century.

People all round the stadium are participating in the dove hand dance.  This exactly the kind of thing to which I once responded with condescending jaded derision. Now I see it as a wonderful example of human connection.

And here, at last, comes the flame. There are no hostile demonstrations here. A man passes it to a woman, who relays it to a second man. A third man; a fourth; another woman; a third; and, finally, an eighth veteran athlete flies up towards the newly unveiled great torch on the roof. He mimes running as the cable carries him behind the unfolding scroll around the rim of the stadium. Behind him, the torch's journey is projected upon the huge plasma screen all round the stadium.

He lights the vast blue touch paper and the great golden flame whips around the glorious red spiral that embraces the cloud-inscribed giant torch. More fireworks exacerbate caddyman's concerns about China's carbon emissions but right now I am caught in the moment; enraptured by the fire.  It is a magnificent conclusion to a visionary ceremony.


I am warmed by your enthusiasm. Fortunately, I missed the soldiers with the children. Like you, I wondered why we had not seen the torch emerge. What else was happening at that time, I wonder?

September 2015



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