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Get ready to watch the Opening Ceremony: Heads of state

Heads of State at the Opening Ceremony
Comité International Olympique (CIO),Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Get ready to watch the Opening Ceremony: Heads of state

The IOC requires an Olympic Games to be declared open by a dignitary from the host nation, typically the head of state.

An Olympic Games is not officially considered open until a dignitary declares them as such. This duty generally falls to the head of state of the host nation. The Games have been opened by kings, queens, emperors, U.S. Presidents and even one of the most notorious figures in modern history.

While commandeering the Olympic Games for the propaganda machine of the Third Reich, Adolf Hitler took advantage of his position of power and opened the Games held in Berlin in 1936.

Adolf Hitler at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Opening Ceremony

Adolf Hitler opened the 1936 Olympic Games at the Opening Ceremony in Berlin. Credit: (C) 1936 / Comit? International Olympique (CIO)

Queen Elizabeth II became the first person to open multiple Olympic Games in 2012, having also opened the Games in Montreal in 1976. In 1976 the Queen wore pink, and opted for a peach-colored frock in 2012.  As Monarch of Australia, the Queen would have been well within her rights to have opened the 2000 Sydney Olympics, but she decided to bestow the honor to then Governor General of Australia, Sir William Deane.

Queen Elizabeth II has opened two Olympic Games

Queen Elizabeth II is the only person to have opened two summer Olympic Games, first in Montreal in 1976, and again in 2012 in London. Credit: (C) 1976/Comite International Olympique (CIO),Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

The Queen's father, King George VI, opened the London Olympics in 1948, but Elizabeth was not in attendance, presumably resting at home, pregnant with Prince Charles, who would be born that November.

King George VI opens the 1948 Olympic Games in London.

Queen Elizabeth's father, King George VI opens the 1948 Olympic Games in London. Credit: (C) 1948 / Comite International Olympique (CIO)

Despite four being staged on U.S. soil, only two U.S. Presidents have opened a summer Olympic Games: President Bill Clinton in 1996 in Atlanta and President Ronald Reagan in Los Angeles in 1984.  The remaining two, St. Louis 1904 and Los Angeles 1932 were opened by David Francis, President of the Louisiana Purchase International Exposition of the 1904 World's Fair and U.S. Vice President Charles Curtis, respectively.

U.S.Presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan

U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan each declared open a summer Olympic Games. Credit: TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Image,Ronald Reagan Library/Getty Images

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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