Most Memorable Olympic Opening Ceremonies

As with any tradition stretched over more than a century, the Olympic opening ceremony has changed quite a bit. The modern Olympic Games have taken place in three consecutive centuries. Over that time, athletes have tested the limitations of the human body, sports apparel has evolved beyond recognition and aspiring cities have spent millions of dollars transforming their infrastructure in record times to impress the world. So much has changed, but the Olympics are overflowing with tradition, none more impressive than the Olympic opening ceremonies. Here are some of the most memorable and the moments that made them so special.


The Panathenaic Stadium in Athens was the site of the first modern Olympics in 1896. It is also where the Olympic flame is finally passed to the host nation to start the Olympic Torch Relay.

1896 – Athens, Greece
It’s hard not to start our list with the first modern Olympics. The Olympics were revived in Athens, setting the standard for many traditions that are still in motion to this day. Athens drew on more than a thousand years of ancient Olympic history for the revival, organizing an opening ceremony which included an introductory speech by the organizer of the Olympic committee followed by a brief welcome by the Head of State. After the words came the music, which was an Olympic hymn accompanied by words from the then current poet Kostis Palamas. It wasn’t until 1920 that other ancient traditions started becoming a part of the ceremonies, such as the oath of sportsmanship taken by the athletes and the lighting of the Olympic flame.

1948 – London, England
The Olympics were postponed for twelve years following the 1936 Olympics because of World War II, and returned in spectacular fashion. However, these Games are not remembered for expensive pageantry. In fact, they quickly became known as the Austerity Games due to the fact that little money was spent creating new stadiums and other accommodations, which became typical leading up to the 1936 Olympics. Rather, the return of the Olympics in a rebuilding London stood as a symbol of Allied victory in World War II. It was as reflective as it was moving, an example of the world returning to some long-awaited sense of normality. International broadcasting didn’t occur until 1956, but the 1948 Games were televised locally in London.

1964 – Tokyo, Japan
Unable to participate in the 1948 Olympics in London, the Japanese were eventually awarded the Games in 1964. It was the first Olympics to be broadcast live around the world, the first to be broadcast in color and one of the first to hold the Games in the fall to avoid the sweltering heat. Although Japan participated in the 1952 Olympics following their ban in 1948, hosting the Olympics presented an opportunity to illustrate their own tribute to the horror of World War II, the humility of a nation and the resiliency of the human spirit. Born on the day the atomic bomb was dropped in Hiroshima in 1945, 19-year-old Yoshinori Sakai was given the honor of lighting the Olympic cauldron with the Olympic torch, symbolizing Japan’s commitment to peace.

1992 – Barcelona, Spain
The opening ceremony at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles are remembered as being a bit over the top or altogether underwhelming given the exorbitant cost. Some critics believe that it marked the beginning of the overzealous opening ceremonies. On the contrary, the 1988 Olympics in Seoul might have rectified matters if not for several of the doves that were released being torched by the Olympic cauldron. 1992 presented an opportunity to restore the quality of the opening ceremony and get back to the traditional Olympic roots, and it didn’t disappoint. One of the most memorable moments was when Spanish archer, Antonio Rebollo, lit his arrow from the Olympic torch and took aim at the cauldron atop the stadium. The dramatic moment might’ve been outdone in 1996 when Muhammad Ali fought his way to the Olympic cauldron, but cannot be ignored.

2008 – Beijing, China
The Olympic opening ceremonies continued to evolve and expand into the twenty-first century, growing into one of the largest live spectacles ever assembled and always trying to top the previous host nation. China’s to thank for setting the present day standard for the opening ceremony. It’s no surprise that London fell a bit short in 2012, and Rio isn’t expected to outperform what occurred in Beijing on the warm early August night. Chinese film director Zhang Yimou, along with top choreographers and composers, undertook the weighty task of capturing China’s rich cultural history in a beautiful narrative with one thrilling act after another until the torch was finally lit in spectacular fashion. The only drawback was the production cost — $100 million.

News Flash! Olympic Fever Has Hit Our Office!

With snow on the ground and a chill in the air, most people think of Valentine’s Day when they think of the month of February. This year the month of February holds more in store for us as the Winter Olympics has returned in 2014. This year the Olympics will be held in Russia from February 6-23 with 98 events in 15 diverse sports.

With the opening ceremonies just a few hours away Olympic fever has started to spread and we are no exception! We are so excited to watch this year’s Olympics; we’ve decided to create our own office event right here at Lakeside. When planning an Office Olympics, organization is key. Here are a few tips on how we planned our momentous events.

When planning any extended event, it is helpful to first decide on how many events you would like to host. Take in consideration the opening and closing ceremonies along with the actual games themselves. When choosing your games be sure they are office friendly and work with the space you have available.

This may be the most important part to plan. In any competition whether it is just for fun or for an Olympic medal, rules keep your events running smooth and your games fair. Olympic athletes train hard and put their all into the games. It’s important they know they won or lose fair and square.

Once you have rules in place teams must be created. Make sure all teams have an equal amount of people. Request your teams to create a team flag and a uniform so there is no confusion of who is participating. It also is fun for the teams to create the ultimate team symbol to showcase during the games.

Now that you have the games in place and your teams ready to train there is only one thing left to do, tell everyone! Send out emails and suggest the recipients forward the information on to others. Start talking it up at the water cooler and just happen to mention there may or may not be medals involved at lunch. Create a buzz and get everyone in the office talking about your Olympic games. This will not only create excitement but your games will gain spectators to cheer on their favorite team.

Lakeside is holding the 2014 Office Olympics where two teams will go for the gold. Three challenging events bring our Advertising team and Customer Service team to our Olympic battle ground to see who will reign victorious. Lakeside will host three events; Recycle Bin Relay, Chair Rowing, and a final face off in Cup Stacking. We kicked off our games with a grand opening ceremony and lit our Olympic flame which will burn throughout the games.

Don’t touch that dial! We have more news from our Office Olympics coming up. Who will win the first event? Did the Olympic flame stay lit? Will our host shimmy in every video? Follow us at the #LakesideGames and Stay tuned!