How 205 national anthems were recorded for London Olympics’ medal ceremonies

Photos: U.S. medal winners
Photos: U.S. medal winners

LONDON — It's an indelible part of the Olympics: Hearing the national anthem of the gold-medal-winning athlete or team played as the flags are raised above the champions.

According to Olympic guidelines, the anthems have to be between 60 and 90 seconds long, so they fit snugly into the flag-raising time frame. So where do the London Olympic organizers get their hands on 205 recordings of anthems that are perfectly timed and aren't just cut off at the end?

The London Philharmonic Orchestra, that's where.

Check out this video chronicling the challenges in the anthem creation process, with the U.S. anthem spotlighted at the end:

The London Philharmonic recorded the anthems during the course of 52 hours at the famous Abbey Road Studios. According to conductor and composer Philip Sheppard, the orchestra players had about 12 minutes to read and record each of the anthems.

Geez, no pressure.

From the BBC:

Each of the 205 recordings had to have a unique arrangement created for the Olympics, Sheppard explained.

"It's for two reasons, one is artistic - to create a faithful (version) but redesigned with a fresh spin. The other reason is legal - you don't want to replicate a previous arrangement."

Eh, legal schmeagal: We're sure the nations would have been fine with alternative anthems. James Brown's "Livin' In America" or "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport" or Borat's version of the Kazakhstan anthem. OK, scratch that last one.

Related Olympics video on Yahoo! Sports:

More London Olympics content on Yahoo! Sports:
France point guard Tony Parker's goggles: Function over fashion on the floor
Controversy surrounds world-record 400 IM of China's 16-year-old Ye Shiwen
Kimberly Rhode: 1st American to medal in 5 straight Olympics