While the 2012 Summer Olympics events will draw millions of viewers from around the world, the Opening Ceremony for the 2012 Summer Olympics is expected to draw a television audience of 6 billion.
The Opening Ceremony, though, has not always been the awe-inspiring events like those seen the last few decades.
First Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony: Athens, Greece 1896
King George I would officially open the Olympic Games in Athens, but the ceremony really didn't have a lot of flare. There was a high point to this ceremony, though, and that was the creation of the Olympic Anthem by Kosis Palamas and Spiros Samaras. It would take 64 years for the Olympic Anthem to become official, though, as the International Olympic Committee would not make that declaration until 1958.
Here is the Olympic Anthem as it was performed during the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece.
First Athletes' Parade: London 1908
The 1928 Olympics were held in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and this was the first time that the athletes would enter the stadium with Greece's athletes leading the way. During the 1908 Olympics in London, England, the athletes would walk behind their country's flag, but the actual protocol for Greece entering first and the host country entering last would not be set until the 1928 Olympics.
The First Olympic Flag: Antwerp, Belguim, 1920
The five interlocking rings on the Olympic Flag would be displayed for the first time during the 1920 Olympics. The colors used for the rings represent at least one color from each country's flag that participated in the Games -- blue, dark yellow, black, green, and red. It would also represent the five continents and their unity. The design was from Pierre, baron de Coubertin.
The First Athlete's Oath: Antwerp, Belgium, 1920
The first Olympic Oath was recited at the 1920 Olympics. It is a symbolic gesture where one chosen athlete from the host country will promise on behalf of all the athletes to engage in sportsmanship during the Games.
First Lighting of the Olympic Flame: Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 1928
The Olympic Flame would be lit in a cauldron for the first time during the Opening Ceremony of the 1928 Olympic Games. It would be another eight years, however, before the Olympic Torch would be delivered by relay to the stadium. In 1936, the Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany, would begin with the lighting of the cauldron from the Olympic Torch.
Historic Highlights: Beijing, China, 2008; Atlanta, Georgia, 1994; Los Angeles, California, 1984
China said that it was going to put on the greatest Opening Ceremony of all time for the 2008 Olympic Games, and it might have done just that. More than $100 million was spent and 14,000 people participated in the performances.
The bombing in Centennial Park in Atlanta, Ga., is certainly one memory from the 1994 Summer Olympics, but the lighting of the Olympic Cauldron by Muhammad Ali was certainly a highlight. His body was shaking from Parkinson's disease and it was an emotional moment for all who watched the ceremonies that year.
The 1984 Summer Olympics were boycotted by most of the Eastern Bloc countries and by the Soviet Union. During the Opening Ceremony, one particular highlight that comes to mind is that of Bill Suitor who wore a jetpack to land in the Olympic Stadium. Suitor, had he been judged, would have received a 10 for sticking the landing.I have watched both the Summer and Winter Olympics for as long as I can remember. It's become somewhat of a family tradition for my family.
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