EmilyBlog – Capturing the world’s attention

By Emily Ridlington, Sports Media Canada Special Correspondent and International Olympic Committee Young Reporter

Singapore – I’m only now writing about the Opening Ceremonies of the Youth Olympic Games because I’m still trying to take them in myself. It was a $25 million spectacle unlike anything else I have ever seen. Think of a show you have seen at Walt Disney World and multiply it by 100. The organizing committee truly outdid themselves.

The Opening Ceremony

The stadium juts out over Marina Bay in the heart of downtown Singapore. Surrounded by skyscrapers and buildings screaming of modern design and architecture. The sun is setting as the crowd takes their seats. The athletes parade in and this is really their time to shine. I think at that moment many of them realized they had made it, already, to a level in their young athletic careers which many of their counterparts will never reach.

How to captivate a young audience which is constantly connected to the world through technology be it in on Facebook, Twitter, instant messaging, e-mail, iTunes or what have you I am sure was a challenge.

Combining rap music and traditional Singaporean drumming was indeed an interesting juxtaposition of things but somehow it worked and the teens liked it. Throughout the duration of the ceremony, fireworks lit up the city skyline with beams of coloured light being projected from the roofs of neighbouring buildings.

The piece de resistance by far was how the Olympic flame made its way into the stadium. Darkness fell over the thousands of spectators and the crowds — the loud screams and cheers from before were hushed to muffles and whispers. In the distance, gliding across the water was a very ornate illuminated dragon. On reaching the dock, athletes passed the flame from one another before the cauldron was lit.

Cauldron atop the 'Lighthouse'

In the shape of a lighthouse, which has much symbolism, the cauldron was lit and “oohs” and “ahhs” could be heard across the stadium.

Not every country can afford to spend that much on an opening ceremony but Singapore chose to kick off the Games in grand style and on a large scale. Whether it was because the small island nation wanted to show off to the world they could host an international sporting event or that it was because it was the first ever Youth Olympic Games, it really made no difference.

The world and more importantly the athletes were impressed. After the ceremony back at the village that evening and for the next couple of  days, all you could hear the athletes talk about was the opening ceremony.

I know in Canada and in the United States the ceremony was not broadcast live on television. I do not think even through the miracle of TV, one would have been able to capture the sense of excitement and magic that was in the air at the stadium that night. Even as reporters who were “working” the ceremony, we still managed be awed, to have a little fun and take it all in.