Saturday, February 8, 2014

Sochi Winter Olympics Opening Ceremonies Errata

The Opening Ceremonies of the XXII Winter Olympiad in Sochi, Russian Federation flakes which were supposed to transform into interlocking Olympic Rings did not completely work. Russian television cut away to show rehearsal footage "in order to preserve the Olympic imagery". More likely to keep Russian self imagery preserved.    But to be fair,  the spectacular torch lighting for the Opening Ceremony of the Vancouver Olympics in 2010 was marred by a technical mishap. 

As NBC Sports Commentator Meredith Viera repeated reminded viewers that the imagery that was part of the pageantry was immediately familiar to Russians.  However, some of the extravaganza was not only unfamiliar but confusing to non-Russophone Olympic fans. 

The show started with  a digital video "Luba's Alphabet Dream", which paired her "ABC"s with words of significance to Russians. 
But the Cyrillic alphabet is not ordered by the Latin ABCs. Hence viewers were confused by the ordering of teams in the Parade of Nations.   Little did people realize that Luba's Dream would be followed by a real world test. 

Zimbabwe's team was called early.  And Venezuela was called before  Canada.

With this unorthodox alphabetic ordering for most Westerners, it would be easy to have missed the explanation about why there were Independent Athletes marching in the Parade of Nations. 

The Independent Athletes are actually Indian.  The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) ran afoul of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) after the IOA elected a member who had pending corruption charges against him.  So the IOC suspended the IOA in December 2012.   For the IOA to regain good graces with the IOC, it needed to redraft its constitution and hold elections before the Olympics.  The IOA chose to hold elections on February 9th, two days after the opening of the Sochi Games.

Caught in the middle of this bureaucratic international politics are three Indian athletes:  Luger Shiva Keshavan, Cross Country Skier Nadeem Iqbal, and Alpine Skier Himanshu Thakur.  They were allowed to march but only with a generic Olympic flag.  In the unlikely event that these Independent Athletes make it to the top of the medal platform, the Indian anthem would not be played.  

Inquiring minds might also like to know about the unusual headdresses which placard bearers wore.  Once again, it was iconic for those raised in Russia but inexplicable for the uninitiated.  They are dressed as Snegurochka, or Snow Maidens.  There is a Russian folk tale which an old childless couple crafted a little girl out of snow, who comes to life but perishes as the Snow Maiden played flame jumping with other village children. 

While technically many of these elements were not wrong, that's a lot of errata for the casual Olympic fan. 

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