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Get ready to watch the Opening Ceremony: Artistic program

2012 London Olympics Opening Ceremony
USA Today Sports/Richard Mackson

Get ready to watch the Opening Ceremony: Artistic program

The visual interpretation of a host nation's cultural history is often one of the most ambitious acts of the Opening Ceremony.  

Every Olympic Opening Ceremony allows the host nation the opportunity to introduce its traditions, heritage, and innovations to the microcosmic gathering inside the Olympic stadium and to the viewing audience at home. This introduction is executed through a display of audiovisual symbolism conceived by the host nation to take the viewer through the most revered aspects of their national identity. Professionals and volunteers alike put on a show which includes a varying array of artistic disciplines which can bounce from dance to puppetry to circus acrobatics to musical performances.

Thrilling every kid and kid-at-heart of the '80s, one small element of Los Angeles's Opening Ceremony in 1984 included a jetpack-clad man blasting off from one end of the stadium and flying to the other.  William Suitor is the man who made that flight and is forever known as The Rocketman.

William Suitor, The Rocketman, 1984 Los Angeles Opening Ceremony

William Suitor was dubbed The Rocketman after his thrilling hydrogen peroxide-fueled flight at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics Opening Ceremony. Credit: Darr Beiser/USA TODAY Sports

In 2004 at the Athens Opening Ceremony, singer Bjork performed her song "Oceania" as her dress rippled across the stadium floor giving it the appearance of the surrounding Mediterranean waters.

Bjork during the 2004 Athens Olympic Opening Ceremony

Known for her wacky costumes, Bjork donned a seemingly never-ending gown as she sang her song Oceania, which she composed specifically for the 2004 Athens Opening Ceremony. Credit: (C) 2004/Kishimoto/IOC/NAKAMURA, Hiroyuki

With an estimated price tag of roughly $100 million, in 2008, Beijing made its case to set the record for the most elaborate Opening Ceremony production in the history of the modern Olympic Games. Roughly 15,000 performers and 30,000 fireworks captivated the world from inside Beijing National Stadium, best known as the Bird's Nest.

In 2012, famed film director, Danny Boyle drew on the United Kingdom's picturesque rural countryside, beloved literary characters, mechanized industrial revolution and deep pop culture roots for London's Opening Ceremony. Coming in at an estimated $41 million, the budget for London's Opening Ceremony, despite being considerably smaller than Beijing, was more than enough to impress. 

Similar to London, Rio has tapped a creative mind of film to help plan the 2016 Opening Ceremony, Fernando Meirelles, director of the critically-acclaimed Rio favela indie "City of God." Rio organizers promise a truly original Opening Ceremony despite a budget lower than the past two Games.

Get ready to watch the Opening Ceremony

Click the options below for more details:

Olympic flame | Final torch bearer | Parade of nations

Athlete uniforms | Artistic program | Olympic flag and anthem

Olympic oath | Heads of state | Release of doves

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