Olympic Opening Ceremonies in Pictures – A History

There’s a ridiculous amount that goes into an Olympic games. Loads of work, loads of effort, loads of training. The thing though, in terms of jobs, is that there are probably more people working behind the scenes than competing. It’s a huge operation which has to be handled delicately. Cameramen, Stewards and Photographers all playing their part in capturing and sharing the games with all. It’s those Photographers that we have to thank for these wonderful images of past Opening Ceremonies.

The first modern Olympics took place in 1896 and was modeled after similar games played by the ancient Greeks. Since then the Olympic Games have come to be regarded as the foremost international sports competition.

In keeping with tradition from the ancient Greeks, the Olympic Games include both an opening and closing ceremony. Over the years, the opening ceremonies have become spectacles of pride for the host country as well as entertainment for the rest of the world.

As popularity of the Games increased (and thanks to the ubiquity of the television broadcasts), so did the budgets for the extravagant opening performances. At the London Olympics in 2012, the opening events cost a reported $41.5 million China spent more than $100 million in 2008. The Rio Olympics is working with a fraction of the budget due to struggles with the Zika virus, water pollution, construction delays, and Brazil’s political and economic crisis.

After Rio’s opening show, here’s a look at the opening ceremonies of Games past.

1896: Athens, Greece

The first modern Olympic games were held in Athens, Greece. 280 participants from 13 nations competed in 43 events. The 1896 Olympics also featured the first marathon competition, which followed the 25-mile route run by a Greek soldier who brought news of a victory over the Persians from Marathon to Athens in 490 B.C.

1908: London, England

Lord and Lady Desborough during the Olympic Regatta at Henley, UK, July 1908. William Grenfell, the 1st Baron Desborough (1855 – 1945) rowed for Oxford in the 1877 and 1878 boat races, and was Chairman of the British Olympic Association during the London Games. His wife Lady Ethel presented the trophies.


1920: Antwerp, Belgium

Scene at the Olympic Games at Antwerp, Belgium – Line up of teams of various countries at opening ceremony.

1928: Amsterdam, Holland

Opening ceremony in the Olympic stadium in Amsterdam. The Olympic flame is a symbol of the Olympic Games and was first introduced at the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam, and has remained a tradition since.

1932: Los Angeles, California USA

The ceremony of the release of the doves as it was carried out at the opening of the Tenth Olympiad at Los Angeles, California, July 30, 1932. The athletes of various countries are shown on the field while the Olympic beacon and the entrance to the stadium is shown in the background.

1936: Berlin, Germany

Adolf Hitler, drives through the Brandenburg Gate, he opened the 11th Olympic Games in Berlin in August,1936.

1956: Melbourne, Australia

Australian athlete Ron Clarke, holder of the junior mile record, carries the Olympic torch into the stadium during the opening ceremony of the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne.

1964: Tokyo, Japan

The Japan delegation marches during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympic Games at the National Stadium on October 10, 1964 in Tokyo, Japan.


1972: Munich, Germany

Pictured here is a view of the opening ceremonies of the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany, Aug. 26, 1972.

1980: Moscow, Russia

Performers during the opening ceremony for the 1980 Summer Olympics.

1996: Atlanta, Georgia

The opening ceremony proceedings in Atlanta, Georgia mark the centennial of the founding of the modern Olympics.

2004: Athens, Greece

Fireworks light up the sky during the opening ceremony of the XXVIII Olympic Games. Some 10,000 athletes representing 202 countries marched together in front of 70,000 spectators during the spectacular opening.

2012: London, England

Fireworks illuminate the sky during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England.

What would we do without those photographers, eh? All it would be would be memories, fantastic ones at that, but just memories. Sights couldn’t be shared, enjoyed and reminisced over without somebody capturing the moment. If you fancy getting into event photography and sharing those magic moments, please check out our courses by clicking this link!


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