Like over 1 billion other humans, I watched the opening ceremony of the Olympics last night, and I found quite a few things interesting. I love all things cultural and international, so the Olympics are enjoyable for me to watch, especially the opening ceremony and the parade of nations. And so far with the 2012 London Olympics, I’m learning a great deal too!
This is quite the year for women in the Olympics! This was the first Olympics that every country has women competing. Brunei, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia have never permitted women to participate before 2012. Qatar even had a women carry the flag in the march of nations. In Atlanta, just 16 years ago, 26 countries didn’t have women competing. This is the first year that the US has more women competing than men (269 women and 261 men). In fact, 45% of the athletes in the games this year are women. Women’s boxing is having its first run at this year’s Olympics. To quote the wise words of my younger sister, “Hey, women have just as much right to punch each other in the face as men do.” I agree.
There are also some skirmishes involving the different nations. As I recently witnessed myself, there are so many hard feelings and issues still between North and South Korea. Apparently, when the women’s soccer team for North Korea was announced for their first match, a South Korean flag was shown. In protest, the women left the field for an hour until the issue could be fixed.
Taiwan has issues. No one knows who they are. For many sporting events they are separate from China and are referred to as Chinese Taipei. It’s a whole separate issue as to whether Taiwan is part of China or if it is its own country, but the issue here is recognition. On some newscasts, such as in South Korea or Japan, the announcers will just say Taiwan instead of the official Chinese Taipei, so people will know who is being talked about. In London, on Regent Street, a Taiwanese flag was hanging with the flags of other nations, but at the “request” of the Chinese embassy, it was removed and replaced by the Chinese Taipei Olympic flag causing an uproar by some Taiwanese.
Now, to the opening ceremony. It was very theatrical, and I know people have mixed feeling about it. But I was only concerned about one thing. Was I the only one that was surprised when the children’s choir sang “God Save the Queen”, the national anthem of the UK, and it had the same tune as “My Country ‘Tis of Thee”? We all learn this song as children, and it was the unofficial national anthem of the US before “The Star Spangled Banner”, and an American didn’t even write the music to it? Woe is me! I also discovered that the Star Spangled Banner sounds eerily similar to an old British drinking song called “The Anacreontic Song”. My faith in patriotic song writing is fizzling out.
I also learned from the opening ceremony that some musicians are British that I had no idea about, such as Eric Clapton and Freddy Mercury. Singers are tricky, because they don’t sing with an accent, and if you never hear them speak, you have no reason to know. Thank you London Olympics for teaching me this important information.
Well folks, this is what I have gleaned from the 2012 London Olympics thus far. What have you learned that you didn’t know or what have you found the most interesting?