The Greatest Show on Earth gets off to a flier – London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony

And so to the Games of the XXX Olympiad – London 2012. The self-styled ‘Greatest Show on Earth’ was declared open by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second following a spectacular opening ceremony culminating in a fireworks display.

Having been shrouded in secrecy prior to the opening night, there had been much debate and rumour as to the nature of the ceremony, and in particular who would be lighting the cauldron. Danny Boyle, a local resident to Olympic Park and perhaps more famous for his movies including blockbusters such as Slumdog Millionaire, was tasked as artistic director of the opening ceremony. His previous experience as a theatre director was probably more relevant and useful to his role in shaping the vision for the ceremony, and this was conducted with a British flavour and sense of humour.


Watched by billions of people around the World, the so-called ‘Isles of Wonder’ ceremony was a triumph. Particular highlights for me included the forging of the Olympic rings during the Industrial Revolution sequence,  the dancing doctors and nurses section highlighting the important role of the NHS and the work of the World-famous pediatric hospital Great Ormond Street, Mr Bean and the ‘Chariots of Fire,’ a skydiving James Bond and ‘Her Majesty the Queen,’ the historical walk through Britain’s music, and a quite beautiful sequence of the lighting of the Olympic cauldron which was performed by seven young future Olympic hopefuls – each sponsored by a British Olympic medalist. The cauldren itself was made up of 204 copper petals representing the number of competing Nations in the Games.

The vast majority of the performers during the Ceremony were Games Maker volunteers, and the diversity of representation made the overall performance very special, as this truly was an inspired welcome from the British people to the World.

Now the serious business of the Games themselves begins. There have already been some powerful performances, including a World record for Kiwi rowing men’s pair Hamish Bond and Eric Murray who demolished the previous World’s best time held by Great Britain rowers Matthew Pinsent and James Cracknell by almost 6 seconds – a huge margin in this event.

On a sadder note, the first doping offences of the Games have already led to withdrawals for two athletes. World indoor High Jump Champion, Dimitris Chondrokoukis, one of Greece’s top hopes for an athletics medal, tested positive for stanozolol. Although he denies ever taking this substance, he withdrew himself from the team. In addition, Hungary’s 2004 Olympic silver medallist Zoltan Kovago refused to take an out-of-competition test. Kovago becomes the second Hungarian discus thrower this year to commit a doping offence, following the news of Robert Fazekas testing positive.

Hopefully, these will be the first and last doping offences of the Games, and the Spirit of the Olympic Games will prevail.There is much to look forward to, and the host Nation, Great Britain, is hoping for a record haul of medals.

Alongside many other medical Games Maker volunteers, I will be working together with my colleagues to provide medical support for the athletes during the Games. This is a great opportunity for Sports Physicians in the UK to be involved with the provision of care during a home Games, and one that I am looking forward to relishing.

The last word on the Games here goes to Baron Pierre de Coubertain, second  President of the International Olympic Committee from 1896-1925, who said that “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.”

Enjoy London 2012.

About Chris Hughes
Associate Editor, Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine

One Response to The Greatest Show on Earth gets off to a flier – London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony

  1. Mike Burdon says:

    Very nice article
    It’s always sad to see doping offences despite all the education but pressures of high performance sports often prevail .
    On a positive note the best Olympics ever ?

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