With their fancy-pants pyrotechnics, eye-watering budget and terrifying display of control over oppressed citizens, the Beijing Olympics organizers set the bar extraordinarily high for opening and closing ceremonies. The 40-minute South Africa opener — with its tribal dancing and huge African calabash pot (above) — was a fitting tribute to the history and heritage of the host nation, but it wasn't anywhere near as technically elaborate as the Chinese displays.
The organizers, however, have promised a "world-class production" for the closing ceremony, with a more high-tech approach. Hopefully, this means more lasers and stuff, rather than some sort of giant robotic vuvuzela powerful enough to blast stadium patrons back in time (if they go back two weeks they could say hello to France!).
Chief marketing officer Derek Carstens is quoted by the South Africa Times:
"While the opening ceremony was more traditional in its approach, in order to do justice to Africa's heritage, the closing ceremony will have more contemporary and youthful themes.
"It takes place at night, which will allow for more dramatic lighting and special effects."
The visual feast will be played out by a cast of 780, and will be broadcast to over 500 million viewers in 215 countries (and no, North Korea probably isn't one of them). In addition to a host of locally renowned musicians, Shakira and her truth-telling hips will return to perform her Fozzie Bear-inspired hit "Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)". The official tournament anthem has sold over one million copies — making it the most successful World Cup song ever — but as we reported before the tournament, many South Africans will dread the prospect of hearing it again.