The Olympic Cyclops then tells the voyagers to rescue the Golden Tweed from the Pyramid of Spaniels ...
I had forgotten why I love the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games so much. Sure, you've got nice costumes, fireworks, gospel singers, all that, but the highlight has to be David Coleman describing the affair (obviously using a script prepared by the show's designers) as if he's reading from The Iliad: "Darkness descends. Suddenly a storm. The thunder and lightning bring forth a great thunder bird." Given that the thunder bird in question did not appear to be a big plastic spaceship driven by a puppet, but rather a man dressed in giant golden feathers frolicking from one end of the stadium to the other, I was impressed that David uttered the words with such conviction. His voice didn't dwindle as he got closer to the end of the line, he just said: "Thunder bird" as if anyone in the world could possibly know what the hell he was talking about.

"The construction now of the Temple of Zeus, in whose honour the Olympic Games were founded ... so very long ago." I have tried many things in the pursuit of sensory thrills, but nothing beats hearing David Coleman say: "The construction now of the Temple of Zeus."

David - sorry ... Mr Coleman - seems to hold sport in such reverence that no amount of mythic gobbledy-gook seems excessive to him. Either that, or he's just going through the motions, impatient to see the competitors out of their national dress and into their swimming pools and whatnot. I wonder if at the next opening ceremony we can't somehow slip him a different script, just to see if he's really paying attention.

Olympic Games Opening Ceremony 2000: introduction

Darkness descends over the Olympic Stadium, and a wind cow prays to the great god Zeus, beseeching him to deliver a sign so that the wind cow may issue a postal eagle to the rain fish, telling him of the arrival of the breeze canary and the lightning moose.

A group of voyagers arrive. The great Cyclops emerges from his cave and chases them around the Olympic Stadium, brandishing his mighty club. They yell and run about like idiots. He captures them, and demands of them three tasks. First, they must form a motorcycle display team and do that pyramid thing. Then, they will retrieve the Golden Tweed from the Pyramid of Spaniels. Finally, they must collect three tears from an empty packet of Rothmans. With these tasks fulfilled the Cyclops allows them to leave, but not before duetting with Diana Ross on "You're Going To Miss Me" by the 13th-floor elevators.

Main ceremony

A lone figure emerges into the centre of the Olympic Stadium, stops, remembers something, then leaves again. No one knows why, nor will they ever know, for 'tis an Olympic mystery.

A great syringe descends from the sky. Its mighty needle pierces the soft Olympic earth and, as its mighty dropper plunges, fills the ground with drugs. Not illegal drugs, but magical drugs that enhance fair play. The earth swells and cracks, releasing a mighty bear into the stadium. The bear, a timeless symbol of gymnastics, becomes enraged by the sudden attention and attacks the thunder bird.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse ride around the stadium, finally coming to a stop near the car park where they meet David Carradine out of "Kung Fu". He engages them in combat, but is easily defeated by the Horsemen, who really have been showing excellent form recently.

The Spirit of Competition, represented as always by a large cake with six legs, runs into the stadium and bites a spectator, represented by a spectator. The spectator, not realising the symbolic significance of the act, jumps on the cake in anger and begins pummelling it with his fists. The enraged cake takes the hapless spectator on a meandering, hilarious ride around the stadium before being shot with tranquilliser darts by a Swat team.


At last there is peace. A single bird, represented, again, by a cake, sings its melancholy song on a tree branch that bends dangerously under its unexpected cake-weight. The Olympic spirit is reborn. An upright, talking cow walks up to the microphone and says: "Wasn't that great? Wasn't that great? Whoo! Yeah! And then puts his newspaper under his arm and applauds, bringing the ceremony officially to a close.

I'm David Coleman. Good-night.