What was that all about — the Opening Ceremonies of XXIX Olympiad

I’ve watched the Olympic Games since ’68, and this is the first year I’m confounded by the opening ceremonies.  It can best be described as a dizzying descent into the maelstrom of pithiness.  How did that gloomy paean to the National Health Service relate to sport and the attending athletes.  Do you think those athletes from Zimbabwe, Maldives, or  Uzbekistan had any idea why dozens of black garment-clad figures carrying umbrellas would be flying through the air.  Oh, that’s Mary Poppins, you say.   Who, they answer?

I know I’m dating myself, but I do remember when the opening ceremonies were marked with joy and an upending spirit of celebration.  The host country included moments of its heritage in the ceremonies, but was inclusive and paid homage to the world cultures of the people in attendance.  The focus was on the athletes and their past and yet to be written achievements.

A country once described through the words, “the sun never sets on the British empire”, that gave us the Industrial Revolution, but also Byron, Shakespeare, Newton, Nelson, Livingston, Disraeli, Churchill, would come to this  —  a blinding light show and fireworks display, replete with as-loud-as-you-can-stand it music,  some theatrical pablum, and individuals of limited musical talent, who all sounded alike once they opened their mouths, (with the exception of Sir Paul, for whom this is his denouement?)

Now that the games are underway, the focus can shift to where it belongs, on the individual athletes, some already well-known, others who have yet to achieve their moment or glory, and the majority for whom just being able to compete at the Games for their country is their moment of a lifetime.  We wish them all well, and we’ll be watching and cheering for them.

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