Bannister Favored To Light Flame As Anticipation For Opening Ceremony Rises
Former Great Britain Olympian Roger Bannister “emerged as the overwhelming favorite to light the Olympic Flame on Friday” during the Opening Ceremony, according to Martin Rogers of YAHOO SPORTS. Bannister, the first man to break the four-minute mile, was "originally considered a long-shot candidate to perform the honor, but now seems likely to take pride of place at the Opening Ceremony” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/27). USA TODAY’s Jon Saraceno notes boxing legend and former Olympian Muhammad Ali, who lit the flame at the '96 Atlanta Games, will attend the Opening Ceremony “but will not be officially involved” (USA TODAY, 7/27).
SNEAK PEAK: In London, Gordon Rayner notes the BBC Thursday was “allowed to broadcast a 30-second clip of the ceremony, featuring modern dance and actors wearing illuminated wings, the first officially-sanctioned preview of the show.” However, those who had been at the rehearsals said that the clips “gave little or no impression of the inventiveness and ambition" London Games Creative Dir Danny Boyle has shown in "tackling the world’s biggest live broadcast event” (London TELEGRAPH, 7/27). The PA’s David Mercer noted rehearsal footage of the Opening Ceremony was removed from YouTube on Thursday as organisers "stepped up efforts to keep details of Friday's eagerly awaited curtain-raiser under wraps” (PA, 7/26). The GUARDIAN’s Owen Gibson notes the Opening Ceremony will begin at 9:00pm local time with “the ringing of the largest harmonically tuned bell in the world, which hangs at one end" of the stadium. Preceding the three-and-a-half-hour ceremony will be a warm-up show, “chiefly designed to get the crowd in the mood” (GUARDIAN, 7/27). Boyle stressed that the ceremony “will take viewers on a sweeping journey through Britain’s history, one that captures the nation’s identity, values, heritage, as well as its present and future” (AP, 7/27). The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Cassell Bryan-Low notes Boyle hopes to “make his show warmer, humorous and more inclusive, including areas of the set where members of the public will be able to stand” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/27).
SILENCE IS GOLDEN: In Chicago, Philip Hersh notes it is unresolved “whether there will be a spontaneous commemoration by spectators and athletes when the Israeli team enters the stadium” to mark the 40th anniversary of the deaths of 11 Israeli athletes at the ’72 Munich Games (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 7/27). USOC CEO Scott Blackmun at a news conference Thursday said that U.S. athletes are “on their own on the issue” of observing a moment of silence (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 7/27). USA TODAY’s Christine Brennan writes the IOC “would rather forget about the tragedy than commemorate it.” The Opening Ceremony is “exactly the place to remember that awful moment in Olympic history” (USA TODAY, 7/27). The AP’s Jim Litke wrote, “A minute of silence carved out of a three-hour opening ceremony is not too much to ask” (AP, 7/26).