I am very excited but also sad about the Athens Olympics starting today. I am a total Olympic buff and will follow the Games as closely as I can on TV between work and the rest of my nonsensical schedule, but I won’t be there. This will be the first Summer Games I haven’t attended since Moscow in ’80.
I lived in L.A. in ’84 and we caught the bug then, dragging our 2 month-old along to soccer at the Rose Bowl, track and field at the Coliseum, boxing at the Sports Arena, and more. It was a blast. From there it turned into a family ritual led by my dad, who became an offical Olympic historian, publishing a newsletter (I helped) for people traveling to the Games (a combo of travel tips, ticket avails, housing information, and sports news). We went to Seoul in ’88 and stopped over for an amazing stay in Japan on the way back, we took in all of Spain around the Barcelona Games of ’92, we were in Atlanta in ’96, and Sydney (with another baby) for a too-short Australian journey in ’00. I have seen almost every sport you can name at one Games or another, and felt the irrepressible joy of the Olympic spirit rise within me every four years no matter what else was going on in my life. But not this time.
A combination of cost, distance, time of year (later than usual, though not as late as Sydney, which was in late-September and early-October due to the seasonal reversals of the Southern Hemisphere), and the difficulties of traveling with two young children have ended the tradition, which we hope to renew four years hence in Peking. But this time only my stalwart dad, Mr. Olympics himself, is at the Games. He’ll be at the Opening Ceremony tonight, which will be seen on NBC from 8-11 pm, and we will try to find him in the crowd.
It’s not as crazy as it seems: we’ve been spotted by friends and family back home watching on TV at one time or another at every Games thus far: Kilroys and Zeligs, running around, waving American flags (where prudent), standing along the sidelines (where possible), often sitting among athletes or the parents of athletes (we sat next to Summer Sanders’s parents as she swam in one finals in Barcelona – we sat next to the entire American swim team at the baseball finals in Sydney). So have fun, Dad, we’ll be watching.
And there is nothing like the Opening Ceremonies, amid pomp and spectacle and the parade of athletes, circling the track and filing up the infield with the prime athletic flesh of the entire earth, each participant full of hopes and dreams and alive with the pride of representing their people, their nation, their family, their sport, themselves.
Speaking of the Opening Ceremonies, Bjork will be performing to an anticipated worldwide audience of 4.5 billion. Her performance will take place immediately after the parade of athletes has finished, when all 14,000 participants are gathered together in the center field.
Bjork will perform “Oceania,” a song she wrote for the event, which will appear on her new album Medulla to be released by Elektra/Atlantic Records on August 31st.
“Björk’s “Oceania” track will be available through RealNetworks’ Rhapsody music service, NBC’s Olympic site, and for purchase through the RealPlayer Music Store until Medulla’s nationwide release on August 31st. Real is offering U.S. consumers free access to the Rhapsody service between August 11th and the close of competition on August 29th.
Of her appearance Bjork said, “Bjork is incredibly honoured to have been asked to write a song and sing it at the Olympics. The song is written from the point of view of the ocean that surrounds all the land and watches over the humans to see how they are doing after millions of years of evolution. It sees no border, different races or religion which has always been at the core of these games.”
No one ever said she isn’t weird – I wonder if she’ll be wearing the swan this time.
Let the Games begin!
Check out Temple Stark’s review of the official Athens Olympics Unity CD here.