Opening up a World – Insights for Opening Ceremonies

How exciting that the Opening Ceremonies are tonight! This is my favorite time of the two year cycle, be it winter or summer. Unless you have been to a Games, either as a spectator, volunteer, or competitor it’s hard to really capture the feeling surrounding this huge event. Still I will go through what I had experienced during Sochi 2014.

There is no warm up run for the hosting country – As many World Cups and major events that city/country may have had, nothing can prepare them for the Olympics. There is no dry run, just plan and go. This is also for Opening Ceremonies. As much as they rehearse, there’s no way of replicating the whole Opening Ceremonies, it’s all very intricate. So if there is mistakes….we are all only human.

Pin trading is huge – Right from when you get to the Games the pin trading begins. So, Opening Ceremonies is a big game of who can get which pins. Since it’s the best spot to have contact with every country the opportunity to get the rarest pins are at Opening Ceremonies. Also, people still have an array to give away, Team Canada gave each athlete about twenty pins to trade or keep. I also brought Toronto and Ontario pins to have extra to trade.

The volunteers are awesome – Since the venue is so huge and the people are plenty, the volunteers need to be on point. In Sochi I needed to go to the washroom before Opening and a volunteer escorted me to make sure I wouldn’t get lost, because following the sea of red wasn’t obvious enough. The volunteer was so happy to help me and I did appreciate it. All of the volunteers always had smiles on their faces and were eager to talk and trade pins.

The walk in is a process – Thousands of athletes located at the different villages are organized to all meet up at one massive venue. I remember it was about a five hours from leaving our athlete’s village to actually walking out. I was a lucky athlete who was competing a few days later, but I defiantly felt for the athletes who had to miss out on Opening because their event was the next day. The walk in is like officially saying “I am now an Olympian!”

It’s very emotional – From the coming together of all the countries to the inspirational stories that come out over the Games; it’s hard not to be overly ecstatic or to shed some tears. When leaving the athlete’s village the Chef De Mission, gives an awesome speech and comradery is felt throughout the whole Team Canada. Jean-Luc Brassard was the Chef De Mission for Sochi and for Rio this year and he is perfect for the role. Walking in is the climax of the emotional roller coaster as it is your time as an athlete to literally “Shine on the world stage”. It gets me every time; the coming together of all the countries in such a peaceful way is amazing.

So much goes into the Opening and ClosingCeremonies to make them as spectacular as they are. I hope you watch them tonight and think “I need to have an Olympic experience”, because they really are the best Games in the World!