One night in 2012 – Remembering the London Olympics

One night in 2012 is a documentary about the opening ceremony of the London Olympics. It is available on iPlayer for a short time.

The London Olympics of 2012 seems a long time ago now. But, I do remember the wave of optimism and positivity which swept across the nation for those balmy three weeks. The nation caught the Olympic spirit, and it was a wonderful occasion.

Part of the success of the London Olympics was putting ordinary people at the heart of the movement and organisation. It wasn’t committees or powerful people, but volunteers freely giving their time which made the event  special.

The Olympics is also a wonderful opportunity for the world’s nations to come together and – through sport – remember we have much more in common than that which divides.

Another thing I remember about 2012 was the overwhelming negativity and cynicism that was rife in the months leading up to the games. The media seemed to pick up on a range of negative stories and pessimism, which left very low expectations. But, within 20 minutes of the opening ceremony starting, everything seemed to change and for those three weeks you felt the world was making tremendous progress.

The opening ceremony was directed by Danny Boyle, who lived in East London. Following on from Beijing 2008 was a very difficult challenge (some people even felt impossible). But, Boyle had faith that he could create something, new, original and dynamic which celebrated the best of British history and culture.

A key feature of his opening ceremony was inviting thousands of volunteers to take part in the choreographed sections of the event. He put these volunteers at the heart of the event. For an event which lasted a couple of hours, the preparations involved several months of hard work and practise. In the video, the volunteers and organisers talk about all their doubts and worries – but also the tremendous pride and joy in bringing everything together on the night.

It is a very moving 100 minutes, especially towards the end when you see the ceremony and all the background stories behind it. It is also a wonderful affirmation of the human spirit – and amidst the current cynicism, negativity and depressing news – a reminder that when people come together in a spirit of selflessness and oneness, extraordinary things can be achieved.

In a very broad sense, the Olympic games and opening ceremony had a strong spiritual underpinning. It combined dynamism, volunteers giving up their time, people working together and working towards a common vision. It also shows that if you have a talented director with both vision and humility to lead people, you can really do great things. The extraordinary thing about Danny Boyle is that he pulled off this masterpiece without any sense of ego.

The great thing about the Opening Ceremony was that it was a success on so many levels – not just the visual and audio presentation, but the way it was achieved; it also genuinely celebrated the best of British traditions and culture. It was a way to feel proud of your country – without any of the negative connotations such patriotism can sometimes engender.

Sri Chinmoy writes on the inner potential of the Olympic games.

“The very word Olympics is, for me, a magnificent thrill, absolutely a universal thrill, and it raises the consciousness of humanity in the inner world. True, in the outer world we may notice some wrong forces, but in the inner world the Olympics is a great opportunity for the upliftment of human consciousness.

This world is full of sadness, sorrows, frustrations and depression, and so many unfriendly, hostile things happen. But in the Olympics at least we get the opportunity to meet together for a few weeks and create a oneness-world-family. Alas, afterwards we go back to our animal life.”

Sri Chinmoy Answers, part 28



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