The day has finally arrived.
For over seven years, since the city of London won the bid to host the Games of the XXX Olympiad, Londoners have been waiting for this moment.
I remember where I was won the announcement was made. I was in Rockefeller Plaza, where I had been for the last 18 hours, watching bid presentations by various cities, including New York. I was there when the IOC announced that New York had been eliminated from contention. Yet I stayed a few hours later to watch this announcement.
Let the (Press) Games Begin…Go!
The Opening Ceremony didn’t start until 9pm. There was still plenty to do for every one involved before the Games start. I was sent back to the Main Press Centre to help a producer out with covering Tom Daley’s presser, which was being held in one of the smaller rooms near the MMCR. At the same time, the US Men’s Basketball Team was having their press conference in the main room.
After I escorted the producer to where he needed to be, I decided to take a walk and see if we had any of our cameras at the basketball presser. There was still a half an hour until the 1pm event but it already looked like the room would be more crowded than the Phelps press conference the previous day. I walked back to where Daley’s presser would be and the producer told me to go back to the MMCR, just in case something happens. I wasn’t going to say no to attending a USA Basketball press conference.
It was packed. Every camera spot taken and every seat filled.
They introduced the coaches, including head coach Mike Krzyzewski and assistant coach (and a familiar face to this Cuse alum) Jim Boeheim. The cameras were rolling (as well as every iPhone and Blackberry camera) as the rest of the team was introduced and stood behind the coaching staff.
After an opening statement from Coack K, they announced that the players would be separated into breakout sessions in different parts of the room.
And that’s when the Games truly began.
All of a sudden, it was a mad scramble. Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant (the three biggest stars of the team) sat in chairs to the right of the stage as journalists, photographers and cameras shuffled their way towards them.
Those who couldn’t get to the pack and get their microphone close enough to hear anything that those three were saying gave up and moved on to some of the other players that didn’t have as many reporters around them. There were even fewer microphones asking for quotes around some of the coaches. It was weird not to see so much attention on Boeheim since he gets so much of it in Syracuse.
I hope every reporter got the soundbite they needed. I was happy that I didn’t need one.
The Hottest Ticket In Town
On my way out, I walked by the MPC Ticketing Area. This is where reporters go to pick up tickets that they would need in addition to their credential for high-demand events, such as tonight’s opening ceremony.
Sometimes, there would be extra tickets left over when some reporters don’t pick up their ticket. When that happens, those tickets get released to the rest of the journalists. And that’s what these photographers and journalists were waiting for.
I knew that it would be a long shot for me to go to the Opening Ceremony. But I was hoping that I could watch it in the park on the big screen. No dice.
Turns out the entire Olympic Park would be on lockdown and that no one would be able to enter the park unless they had a ticket or a sticker on their credential. Basically, I was stuck watching the ceremony at the IBC. Hey, there are worse places to be.
There was so much hype regarding what would happen, partially because of some of my intern friends who get to work inside the stadium for the event. They’ve been bound to secrecy although the press has been releasing details of it as the week progressed. Ironically, they were told to #SavetheSurprise which implies that you should hype the event on Twitter but don’t release any of the details.
Whatever the surprise was, the Opening Ceremony is always something special. It’s what sets the tone for the rest of the Olympics and there’s so much “Pomp and Circumstance” involved. I knew that wherever I watched, I’d have a good time.
I started by watching from my desk at Sports Desk. It was only me, the other loggers and my supervisors. Some of the producers were sent to the Olympic Stadium as either standby in case something happens, or to help coordinate interviews with some of the athletes.
What’s cool about being at the IBC was that you could watch the NBC feed as it happens live (as opposed to those in the United States who had to watch on tape delay). I also watched it alongside the World Feed so I got to see some of the different cuts that Bucky Gunts, the director, was making for the American audience.
After about an hour, I met up with one of my fellow interns in the NBC News room across the hall, which had a gigantic screen and was the perfect place to catch the rest of the creative elements of the ceremony. It was also kind of cool to see Savannah Guthrie, Brian Williams and Peter Alexander in the same room, but only because it made me feel better about not being in the stadium to watch the ceremony. After all, NBC Nightly News still had to air at 11:30PM local time.
By the time it got to the Parade of Nations, we decided to go to the media bar across the IBC at the Main Press Centre. My friend and I grabbed a few drinks and played a little game during the Parade of Nations. We drank each time there was:
1) A nation we’ve never heard of.
2) Very native costumes/hat
3) A non-white female carrying the flag
It definitely helped pass the time, since there were 204 nations. And of course, people cheered when their country was announced (loud cheers for Germany, Canada and Japan). I was the lone guy cheering for The Philippines and there were a few boos for the United States. Of course, the big moment, when Team GB entered the stadium, drew loud applause and cheers.
The last hour was a bit of a blur, maybe because of the four pints of Heineken that we had. But I do remember being a bit confused as to why youth athletes were lighting the cauldron. But when the fireworks started, we all ran out of the bar, got our iPhones out and started rolling.
The games have officially begun.