I’m Feeling Very Olympic Today

So as I sit here writing this I’m watching the live feed of the Opening Ceremonies from the Beijing Olympics.

I’ll be honest with you. I like to consider myself fairly knowledgeable when it comes to sports and to a lesser extent – I do think I’m at least mildly knowledgeable about my world geography….. But who the hell are some of these countries?

There are 204 countries marching in the Parade of Nations which is what I’m looking at right now. It was supposed to be 205 but a country that I’ve never heard of forgot to register their athlete’s on time when they arrived in Beijing and thus are disqualified… That’s a real bitch but kinda funny at the same time.

If you had asked me before this morning how many countries I thought there were in the world – nevermind competing at the Olympics – I probably would have pegged it in at around 190. Apparently I would have been way off.

All that said, I’m still amazed how many countries are here with just one or two athletes and I do, despite my taunts, think it’s great. Because it’s not like it’s just that these are the best in their countries which, let’s face it, may not be any great accomplishment in some of these places. There are Olympic standards that athlete’s must make to qualify. This means that athlete’s from places like Balau, Malta and Mongolia had to make the same standards as top athlete’s from the USA, China and the United Kingdom. That is impressive when you look at the financial diversities and advantages that certainly weigh in to these equations.

The ceremony itself was actually very well done. I normally dread the ceremony portion as it’s normally extremely boring and reflects boring parts of a nation that very few people outside of the country care about. This was very exciting and very beuaitfully done.

It focused largely around 4 elements that the Chinese are believed to have invented. Gun powder (used in a spectacular fireworks display), paper, the written character and the cumpas.

Personally, my favourite part of the ceremony was a very specific portion of the fireworks display which started in the south portion of Beijing. Cameras zoomed way back to give a broad view of the city and fireworks went off in the spae of 29 footsteps looking like they were marching from the south part of Beijing, through the Forbidden City, Tienamin Square and finishing at the north at the Olympic Stadium. There were 29 footprints because this is the 29th Olympic Summer Games. Also they went from south to north as in Chinese culture it is believed that positive energy flows in that direction and so it was meant as a good luck to the games.

If you plan to watch the games – the time difference breaks down this way. Here in Toronto, and the Eastern Time Zone, we are 12 hours behind them. Therefore, as I watched the Ceremonies live at 8am it is 8pm in Beijing. This means that anything you watch during the daytime will be on tape delay and will have already happened. If ou wish to watch anything live it should get going around 8pm ET (8am in Beijing) and run steady through ’til about 9am ET. Bummer eh?

One last comical point. Many are making a big deal out of American swimmer, Micheal Phelps, and rightfully so. He is a dominant player on the world stage and he has a lagitimate chance of setting an Olympic record of winning 8 golds at one Olympics. To this end, NBC, the American rights holder for the games, requested that the swim finals be moved from night time in China to the mornings so that it will be in prime time back home and they can try to capitalize and maximize viewership for this possible assault on the record back. Apparently – no one talked to Phelps about this though as he admitted the other day that he is a terrible morning person and typically struggles in morning races, which of course, now all his finals will be to accomodate American television. Beautiful work.


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