Sunday, July 31, 2016

Symbols of Peace

This will be posted as we are performing our first full dress rehearsal.  I'll make sure to give you any details tomorrow (of what I can share that is).  In the meantime, two days ago, I posted about some parts of the protocol of the ceremony to look for, and what past ceremonies have done - the cauldron lighting and the presentation of the Olympic Rings.

Hold your nose! Maracana, with an open sewer line in front!
One final moment to pay attention to is the release of doves.  This has a rather strange history.  The Olympics were very young by the time World War I ravaged Europe.  The 1916 Berlin Olympics were canceled and there was serious doubt as to whether the Olympics could move on after the conflict.  In a brilliant move, the IOC awarded Antwerp, Belgium the games in 1920 - the most devastated country in the war.  It was a way to celebrate peaceful competition and with that, the ceremony added a few new elements:  oaths, the Olympic flag, and release of doves (symbolizing peace).

The oaths and Olympic Flag presentation have remained unchanged since that time.  The Olympic Hymn tradition is even older, beginning with the first modern games in Athens in 1896, but the release of doves ran into some issues.  After 1920, the release of doves became a visual spectacle in a ceremony that didn't offer much spectacle outside of the parade of nations and cauldron lighting.  Many early ceremonies were very austere and simple.

By the 1980s, the Cold War instigated, by far, the largest ceremonies up to that point in time - mega events in Moscow and Los Angeles, each with enormous flocks of doves being released as part of the celebration.  Then in 1988, Seoul tried to adapt to this trend.  They produced a large (and very long) ceremony, but the cauldron would be set high within the Olympic Stadium - a nice place a perch if you were a lazy dove.  Then this happened (warning: burning living things).

For the doves that escaped, some plummeted to their deaths hitting the athletes below and spectators.  Obviously, many in the viewing audience were appalled, so the IOC instituted a brilliant protocol change eliminating live doves and instead requiring an artistic "release of doves."  Here are some of my favorites versions of how the recent Olympics have adapted this new tradition.  Again, the clips are short since I've cued them up, so why not watch them all!

Atlanta 1996 - dove kites

Nagano 1998 - dove balloons

Sydney 2000 - projected dove on cloth (also 2004, didn't include that here)
...and holy smokes she can belt high - ouch!

Salt Lake City 2002 - dove kites with ice skaters

Torino 2006 - aerial gymnastics dove

London 2012 - flying bicycle doves (pretty amazing)

Sochi 2014 - ballet dove (my favorite)

Today's teaser...practicing in the dark...

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