Sunday, 15 March 2009

Did you know?

The starting date of the Ancient Olympics, from around 776 BC, depended on the full-moon. The Greeks chose to stage (and 'stage' is probably the most appropriate word, seeing as the earliest Olympians would compete in oratory skills as well as running and jumping) the mass gathering around the second full-moon after the summer solstice.

Furthermore, the third day of the five-day event would fall on the full-moon, where a procession of all heroic competitors would stride through the Greek town of Olympia. Later that evening a sacrifice would be made to Zeus, to honour the king of the Gods.

In 2004, the Athens Modern Olympics (the Olympic Games were resurrected in their Modern form in 1896) paid homage to their ancestors' lunar tradition by holding the closing ceremony under a creamy full-moon. Like the Greeks, the Chinese evoked their millenia-old traditions in a show of dragons and fireworks four years later.

Watch from around 0.30 for the moon!

And what did the English do in response, in the 8-minute slot our Beijing hosts allowed us to promote London 2012?

We let Boris Johnson hold a potentially dangerous flag pole, flung some reckless cyclists in front of a bus, showed how our buses can fall apart at bus stops, and then let a shaven-headed, rather thuggish-looking David Beckham kick a football at an unsuspecting Chinese man, while Jimmy Page, looking like Tinker from Lovejoy, sang with a 30-foot tall reality tv star.

From my experience it was probably wise not to mention the full-moon during our handover slot; it's not like we'll get a clear night for it.

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