The Olympic YouTube channel is sharing highlights from the Olympic Games in honor of the 2020 Olympic year. Included in these highlights are repostings of various opening and closing ceremonies.
The Olympic Games have long been characterized as an event that unites people from all over the world. The ritual opening and closing ceremonies have served to celebrate this fact.
Host countries have used the ceremonies as an opportunity to celebrate their country’s history and culture in creative ways. Whether it be through music, dancing or art, the opening and closing ceremonies have showcased a variety of artistic feats.
The opening and closing ceremonies have also been the site of political and social activism.
The opening ceremony of the 2000 Olympics in Sydney are perhaps the most iconic.
In this performance, Australia introduced the audience to its geography and history. Australia’s nature is depicted in phases, beginning with a celebration of the ocean, with a particular focus on the Great Barrier Reef.
The focus of the performance then shifts to a celebration of Australia’s nature, with performers dressed like the flora of Australia. The tribute to Australia’s land also includes recognition of Australia’s indigenous peoples, who were forced off of their land as a result of British colonization.
At the opening ceremony of the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio, the performance included a segment about climate change. A map of the world showed rising CO2 emissions. Another map showed how the polar ice caps have been gradually melting throughout the last decade. Statistics about rising sea levels were also shared with the audience.
The 2018 winter Olympics in Pyeongchang also provide another example of the political power of the Olympics. The 2018 Games came during a time of tension and unrest between North and South Korea. But the Games provided an opportunity for the countries to come together and march under one flag.
Furthermore, the logo of the Pyeongchang Games, according to the official website of the Olympic Games, represents “heaven, earth, and human…in harmony.” This image is enacted during the ceremony through the formation of a bird, a symbol of peace and harmony.
In a time of great uncertainty and unrest all over the world, these videos serve as a reminder of the unifying power of the Olympic Games. They underscore the Olympic values of excellence, respect and friendship, demonstrating that the Olympic Games are so much more than a sporting event; they provide an opportunity for people to put aside their differences and come together in celebration of their common humanity.
Various videos of opening and closing ceremonies are available for browsing below. You can also visit the official YouTube channel of the Olympic Games for more content.