Olympics Opening Ceremony: $42M, Sheep, Cows

By Ines Novacic

Jun 13, 2012 10:40am
gty olympics opening ceremony nt 120613 wblog Olympics Opening Ceremony: $42M, Sheep, Cows

LOCOG via Getty Images

Despite a rather “out-there” blueprint for the “Green Pleasant”-themed Olympics opening ceremony involving some 10,000 volunteers and directed by Danny Boyle, its $42 million price-tag is no bother at all for the overall Olympics budget.

UK Minister for Sports Hugh Robertson happily noted that: “there is £476m ($740 million) of uncommitted contingency available,” following the release of the newest economic report before the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games earlier today.

The overall Games’ budget received a $45 million boost, as additional funding was given to the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in the last few months. The Olympic Park and Village were transferred into the hands of the Organizing Committee from the Olympic Delivery Authority in January, to allow for the preparation of venue staging for the games.

And in terms of the opening ceremony staging, quality, and not fiscal quantity, is being focused on.

When Danny Boyle unveiled a model of his July 27 vision at a press conference Tuesday, he elicited an odd mixture of public excitement and confusion.

And headlines about “Cows and Sheep,” and:  “The Hills are Alive” aren’t helping.

Boyle’s desire to “offer a vision of Britain with something for everyone,” has been met both delight and skepticism, as the public digest his grand plan of transforming east London’s 62,000-seat Olympic stadium into an idyllic British pastoral setting.

The ceremony, titled “Isles of Wonder,” is inspired by Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest” and will boast one of the largest sets ever made.  The stadium’s 15,000 square-meter stage will be transformed into a rural mix of meadows, fields and rivers. Families will be taking picnics, farmers will till the soil, and various farm animals, including 70 sheep and 12 horses will roam around.

Other set highlights include a recreation of the Glastonbury Tor landmark and a flying system that can lift 25 tons. Decorations include about 13,000 props  and 23,000 costumes.

On the London 2012 official Facebook page, comments about the ceremony range from: “It will be amazing as will the Games!” to: “We might as well put on a Teletubbies DVD and let the crew and volunteers go to the bar,” and “Can you lot please stop spending TAXPAYER’S money on such nonsense!!!” The picture posted of Boyle’s model, however, has gotten almost 1,500 “likes” in the last day, suggesting that excitement is beating out distaste.

Excitement and spectacle aside, some of the ceremony’s 10,000 volunteers seem surprised at the very public unveiling of ceremony plans, having been instructed to keep their mouths closed about any details. One volunteer commented on Facebook: “it had been made out like this was the biggest secret…”

Now 44 days away and counting, arrangements surrounding the games and their opening ceremony are in their final stages. And evidenced by news such as an on-budget schedule, all is going according to plan.

“Britain has proved that not only can we put on a great show for the world to watch like we did with the Jubilee but that we can also deliver big construction projects on time and on budget,” Secretary of State for Culture Olympics Media and Sport Jeremy Hunt said in a statement today.

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