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Ikarus360

Pyeongchang 2018 Opening Ceremony Verdicts and Reviews

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It was.... nice, I guess.

Maybe I’m just jaded in my dotage. I’ve not been feeling the Olympic anticipation in the lead-up. Happy enough to record to watch rather than stay up to watch it live. And an easy enough ceremony to fast forward through a lot of it.

Nothing to really dislike about it (well, they could have done without the spiral thing lighting he cauldron - Kim Yuna on skates was more than enough to make that work). Nothing to really live on in my memory in a few months time either. To me it lacked any poetic or emotional moments, like Vancouver, or sheer spectacle (whatever else, Sochi sure gave spectacular ceremony). The closest to a wow moment for me were the rings of drones (were they really real?????? Looked to down pat and precise to me). Could have used a bit more hologram magic stuff.

It gets a solid A grade from me. No plus marks, honours or outstandings though.

Edited by Sir Rols

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1 hour ago, TorchbearerSydney said:

* Very happy that the budgets have come down since London / Sochi....I find seeing what a country can do on a tighter budget more interesting. Sochi is perhaps my fave ceremony ever, but it could not continue on that scale.

* The athlete parade finally was pacey, I think the super quick music helped that. 

Don't forget that the ceremonies budget here includes a stadium which will be dismantled after four shows- at least Sochi got a football venue out of their extravagance.

Super quick music doesn't always help (see Athens)- but super quick music, plus a small stadium, plus low temperatures probably does!

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16 minutes ago, JMarkSnow2012 said:

Don't forget that the ceremonies budget here includes a stadium which will be dismantled after four shows- at least Sochi got a football venue out of their extravagance.

Super quick music doesn't always help (see Athens)- but super quick music, plus a small stadium, plus low temperatures probably does!

Good point about the stadium cost......not very 'eco' friendly either...

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Hi guys, long time no see. ;-) Well, as you can see, I've lost a lot of "Olympic Spirit" due to all the doping cases and corruption in and around the Olympic Movement, so I've largely vanished from these boards.

I must say, though, that the opening ceremony reconciled me with the Games a bit. I think it was a good ceremony. There was impressive imagery (especially the glowworm/firefly effect stunned me, and I'm also asking myself whether the drones forming the Olympic Rings was real or CGI), nice projections and a strong use of technological gadgets, just like you would expect from a country like South Korea. I watched only the last 45 minutes or so live (because I was still at work) and found that part rather dull and sometimes even cheesy, but when I rewatched the ceremony in its entirety, I got much better into the flow and the kind of imagery and storytelling made more sense to me. I also liked the strong emphasis on the future.

But there are weakpoints which don't make it a perfect ceremony for me. Most importantly, the audience. I noticed how important it is that the audience interacts with what the performers show, and atmosphere-wise, this ceremony fell almost completely flat. I sometimes asked myself, "Is the audience dead?" because one could hear nothing at all, which was particularly a shame during the parade of nations where at least a little bit of polite applause for foreign teams wouldn't have hurt. And even for the home team, the cheers were rather modest. I get it that it was very cold in the stadium, but why don't clap and cheer to fight the cold? I was surprised about that, and I wasn't the only one. The commentators on German Olympic broadcaster ARD mentioned the silence of the audience several times during the broadcast, and even mentioned that from a population that is known as the "Italians or Spaniards of Asia", this comes as a surprise. I really hope that the Pyeongchang audience loses that shyness in the course of the Games.

Then there was the old "children lead us through the story" gadget, which becomes boring after having been used in so many opening or closing ceremonies. And "Imagine" should be retired from Olympic ceremonies, too, at least for a while. While I found it a nice arrangement, with the mix of instrumental performances from all over the world, I found the "Oh no, not again" effect and the English pronunciation of the singers rather cringeworthy. Also the dancing segment after the lighting of the cauldron went over my head. I learned that it referred to some popular South Korean TV series, but for the international audience, it didn't made a lot of sense - and was an anti-climax. For me, it would have been sufficient to end the ceremony with the cauldron lighting, even if the audience didn't show any kind of reaction to it either (at least not as far as it was audible in the broadcast).

And of course there were some copycat moments. The drum segment (although being impressive) was clearly a copy from Beijing 2008, and the mix of video and live segments (especially the style of the videos) reminded me of Danny Boyle's concept in London 2012. The "future" segment with the lit frames sometimes reminded of the Tokyo 2020 handover. But there were enough innovations so that Pyeongchang could leave its mark in the storybook of Olympic ceremonies. It was entertaining, well-paced and provided some impressive imagery. It was a good kick-off. Atmosphere-wise, Pyeongchang needs to step up its game, though.

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About the quietness of the crowd, you guys have to remember culture in Korea and Japan is very different. They strongly believe in not causing discomfort to others as much as possible, hence why many don't tend to be noisy/speak too much in public. So it's kind of normal on this case. Also the fact this is a 35.000 stadium.

Well, as promised, I am posting a more detailed review of the Opening Ceremony, now that i've rewatched it. I will also divide it according to the official name of each of the segments.

The Land of Peace (Countdown - Welcome segment)

The intro video with the airport was pretty nice, actually. The posters countdown was reminiscing of London and Torino, but in a very original manner. I knew the Gowjlseon Temple was going to have a moment on the ceremony with the Korean Bell.

The story about the kids was fun/heartwarming, though at moments reminded me a lot of Narnia. I really liked how many national treasures of Korea were shown during this segment. The Tiger, Phoenix, Dragon and Turtle were a nice nod to the Four Cardinal Points of asian culture. While that strange birdman creature is kind of being meme'd at the moment by korean netizens, in truth this creature also appears at the ancient Goguryeo mural paintings. The formation of the constellation dome seemed to have been prerecorded, though i'm not pretty sure.

Overall, i think the welcoming segment of Sochi was better in comparison because it had more consistence and wow factor (even with the infamous Olympic ring glitch)

Taegeuk: Harmony of the Cosmos (National Flag)

This part was actually pretty nice, though the drum performers coming from underground was heavily reminiscing of the Beijing 2008 Chinese characters segment. The dancing around the central performers was very well coordinated, and the central drummers forming the Taegeuk felt like a nod to the Seoul 88 logo when it was formed during its respective opening.

I liked the use of the Joseon military band for the entrance of the flag (a nod to Seoul 88 as well when the Olympic Flag entered, though the music this time didn't sounded as creepy). The national anthem was ok, not bad but it would had been nice having someone like Sumi Jo instead of a children choir. At least better executed than that hideous Olympic Anthem from Rio 2016 (The Rainbow Choir is formed also by kids from many other countries, even though the majority are korean)

Parade of Nations

Now this was a very good, fluid and quick Parade. The organizers had to make it this way in order to save time because of the harsh weather of last night. The use of "Hand in Hand" to start the parade was a nice touch (as well for Gangnam Style when USA entered). Placard Bearers were also very original. Like most of you, I had complicated feelings with the Unified Korean team, I still dont think North Korea deserved this (and I still think SK president needs to stop trying too hard to please Kim). My main complaint about the parade of nations was the overall quietness of the spectators, then again, like I explained above, is probably a matter of regional culture or just the harsh weather. I hope they become more cheerful during the games.

Arirang The River of Time

Now, this segment was very confusing at first, and I just managed to understand it by reading the program. The storm symbolizing the turmoils Koreans had to face through their history ( but ultimately overcoming them represented by a river (which fits with the Miracle on Han River motif) was a nice idea, but I felt this segment felt kind of flat and very short. Not particularly impressive. 

All For the Future

The vision of the future for South Korea was kind of interesting though maybe a bit too sci-fi for some people tastes. The led frames were nice, though I feel they borrowed a bit too much from Tokyo 2020 handover ( i wouldn't be surprised some Japanese have accused them already of plagiarism, given they have already accused Korea of plagiarism in the past). The light pillar was pretty nice, though. 

Peace in Motion (Dove segment - Rings)

Like many of you said already, the formation of Doves was pretty nice, but using the song "Imagine", again? There are many other songs out there, hell, they could had even made a new song, but they had to recur to an overused song. That kind of killed this segment for me. 

And then, there's the drones segment. Probably my biggest issue with this ceremony. This could had been a spectacular segment if done live and if the drones were actually in the stadium. But nope. They went for pre-recorded stuff instead. That ruined a big opportunity for a memorable segment in the history of Olympic ceremonies, which was a big shame, even if it looked spectacular on TV.

Olympic Flag-Anthem

Much, much better than the horrid engrish Olympic Anthem of Rio 2016 with those kids. Glad to hear the anthem in Greek once more after a long while.

Lightning of the Cauldron

The music was pretty nice, this segment was picking a lot of climax when the last two torchbearers climbed through the LED stairs. Yuna Kim, even if it was super-predictable, was still cool, with that small figure skating rink and everything. 

But then....that horrid cylinder which came from underground kind of ruined the whole segment. I honestly think Yuna should had lit the cauldron the traditional way, but this last part felt both uninspired and rushed. You can tell they ran out of ideas at that point. Maybe they should had scrapped this as they planned to two weeks ago when Reuters leaked it. 

Also, when I saw the smileys fireworks I instantly thought "RIPOFF". It looked almost exactly to Beijing 2008 smileys fireworks used during the "You and Me" segment. 

Wish Fire

The masked dancers were actually meant to represent Dokkaebi, which are creatures in Korean folk (very similar to goblins or the Onis of japanese myth) which love to make pranks and have fun. I think the bonfire show was actually pretty good and helped make up for the rather disappointing fireworks used for this Opening Ceremony. Again, though, it wasn't 100% original, as it reminded me a lot of the bonfire segment of Albertville '92 closing right after the cauldron extinction. 

Overall Review: 7.5/10

It was a very solid ceremony, which didn't felt tedious and was quick to the point. The parade of nations was one of the best organized i've seen in an Olympic ceremony. However, the fact the show depended so much of pre-recorded videos, as well for lacking originality at times makes it hard for me to give it a higher score. Still though, it still had the spirit of an Olympic Ceremony and did its job. The wow factor was certainly slightly bigger than Rio.

I think we all have to resign to the fact low budget ceremonies are the way to do things now, thanks to the whole mess brought in by Sochi. However, as someone mentioned, low budget can be a good thing because it will force organizers to innovate more. I hope the Closing Ceremony is an improvement of what we saw today, though. The fact Zhang Yimou will direct the Beijing 2022 handover is almost a guarantee we will be up for at least eight awesome minutes. However I want to see what Korea does (apparently the director for the closing will be different).

 

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7 hours ago, Ikarus360 said:

According to what i've read (and one user of GB), the metal rod had 30 rings. Each ring represented the years since Seoul 1988, I think it was meant to represent how much SK has changed since then. However I agree this idea could had been executed much better.

The music was top notch though, and rewatching it again I did noticed Yuna Kim was trying hard not to cry on a moment which was very emotional but kinda dumbed down by this.

30 rings for Seoul 1988 was confirmed by a commentator in the live coverage during the opening ceremony in Brazil. He said it is in the official program.

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I liked the OC, but it did not surprise me at all. I expected and then witness a traditional Asian ushering with bells and taikos, so the entrance reminded me Seoul'88 and its handover back in 1984. I found this ceremony humble and colourful. I loved the traditional upstairs trip to the cauldron like Sarajevo'84/Nagano'98 style. But the spiral was new. The Koreans did a good job.

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17 minutes ago, Ikarus360 said:

Parade of Nations

Now this was a very good, fluid and quick Parade. The organizers had to make it this way in order to save time because of the harsh weather of last night. The use of "Hand in Hand" to start the parade was a nice touch (as well for Gangnam Style when USA entered). Placard Bearers were also very original. Like most of you, I had complicated feelings with the Unified Korean team, I still dont think North Korea deserved this (and I still think SK president needs to stop trying too hard to please Kim). My main complaint about the parade of nations was the overall quietness of the spectators, then again, like I explained above, is probably a matter of regional culture or just the harsh weather. I hope they become more cheerful during the games.

 

Indeed the Parade of Nations is a hightlight compared to past ceremonies despite the quietness of the spectators.

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...just watching the OC. ......overall i like everything a lot....

parade of nation just started.....the sign girls have some cool winter couture looking costume and the sign branch is really elegant.....i love korean style.....the performers are doing a really cute dance in the middle too....its a fun parade! :]  

I was not super excited the last couple weeks, not huge anticipation for the games....but after seeing some mogul skiing and skating yesterday i'm a little excited.

 

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13 minutes ago, paul said:

I was not super excited the last couple weeks, not huge anticipation for the games....but after seeing some mogul skiing and skating yesterday i'm a little excited.

Yeah, I get where you’re at. Hadn’t been thinking at all much of the games the last few weeks. Really only sat down to start watching this morning with a feeling of “Oh well, guess I’ll watch for old time’s sake”. And now with the OC and  a bit of figure skating and slope style and I’m starting to feel the old Games Groove again.

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...omg i think Kim Jong-il's sister was actually rolling her eyes when the Americans came in.......that was the most awesome thing ever.......this is a great ceremony!!

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Overall, I was happy with what I saw. I kept my expectations a little lower, given the stadium itself, as well as the country's budget being far lower than Sochi, but overall, I was happy. I did not find myself getting chills up my arms like I did during Beijing or Rio, but I still enjoyed the show. Here are a few summed up positives and negatives, for me:

Pros

  • Seatback Lighting. I really like the use of this during ceremonies, and I really like how they used it during the Parade of Nations. Also distracted from the open seats throughout the venue.
  • Parade of Nations. I loved the incorporation of popular Korean songs, including "Hand in Hand" from Seoul 1988. It also went much faster, which is something I hope we can keep for future Games. Sometimes they just seem entirely too long.
  • The kids. I always love when kids are the main focus of the ceremony, which leads me into my next point
  • Focus on the future. I was praying they wouldn't go the historical route and end up repeated Nagano 1998, and I was very glad they didn't. Plus, it gave the world a good glimpse into what Korea is trying to be, and I think they should be proud of themselves for it, like they were in 1988.
  • Cauldron Lighting. I am very glad Yuna Kim did it, I expected no one else. 
  • Fireworks. For some reason I liked these much better than Sochis, which was odd. Much more variety.
  • The ski/snowboard/drone video, definitely a major highlight was the rings made by drones
  • Unified Korea. While it may have been a political stunt, it was surely an Olympic moment, and it was definitely a sight to see.

Cons

  • Somewhat disorganized. Videos and performances didn't seem to follow any sort of narrative or story, and it was confusing to bounce back between old Korea and future Korea.
  • The amount of videos. I would've been somewhat disappointed/pissed if I got all the way out there to spend most of my time in my seat watching a video I could've been bundled up on my couch watching.
  • Somewhat Lackluster. None of the performances really made me say "wow, what I would do to be there right now". The Unified Korea and Yuna Kim had that affect for me, but no musical or theatrical performance, which was weird for me. In London, during the entire part devoted to British music, I continuously thought "oh what I would do to be in London right now, singing the Beatles at the Olympics", and in Rio, "oh what I would do to see Gizelle Bundchen walk to 'The Girl from Ipanema' in front of mock favelas". Nothing like that here.
  • The NBC broadcasting. I was very upset that certain parts of the ceremony were cut from the NBC broadcast due to "time constraints", but they HAD to send over an hour, if not more, of the allotted three doing interviews/descriptions of Team USA members. I know that's where the money lies and many in the US only care about Team USA, but I am very upset that I now have to go watch a version without commentary at a later date in order to see the full ceremony.
  • Empty seats. Very unfortunate to see, and as stated, they tried to cover it up, but it was apparent that that stadium was not filled.

 

Overall though, I was happy with the show. Maybe it's my optimistic nature, or the length of time between the Games that allows me to be much less critical when they come on for the first time (I will get critical when the hype goes away), but I was happy. What matters is if the OC spoke to South Koreans and the nearby Chinese, because if it did, then ticket sales will rise for people trying to get to last minute events or maybe even the closing ceremony, and Pyeongchang needs that boost right now. I'm excited for more Olympic events though!

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imagine segment.....that could not be more BAD.

Ring segment........shameless commercial for intel.....meaningless for the ceremony except as an embarrassment for the host that they neglected to deliver a real ring reveal at their long long long fought for Olympics. what a let down.

...at least a giant robot penis didn't get erect and burst into flames......oh wait....

...opera singer and old guy singing Arirang was both great.

CAULDRON LIGHTING SEGMENT: I mean..it was a nice build up, great music, nice lit staircase, except for the north Koreans inability to smile and the "flaming 30-ring prong" it was very good......could have been excellent....truly a missed opportunity. And now crazy gets burnt into the history books.

Final verdict.......class act with a couple dorky blips. It was really good.

Edited by paul

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As for the cauldron lighting...as a layman watching at home I 'read' the industrial/ agricultural/ crude flaming metal pole as Korea rising from the ashes of WW2 and Korean War into the shiny new modern age of the glistening white cauldron.....

Apparently I read too much into it- but it makes more sense than the 30 rings/ year story.

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I agree that the ceremony lacked some wow and more original elements (not easy to do a super spectacular show in a stadium of these characteristics), but overall I think it was nice to watch and the fast pace was perfect. The cauldron lighting was strange indeed. That metallic structure seemed out of place and its meaning is still not clear. Had it been disguised as an ice column or something related to the ice where it came out from, it probably wouldn't have been so puzzling.

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5 hours ago, Ikarus360 said:

Now this was a very good, fluid and quick Parade. The organizers had to make it this way in order to save time because of the harsh weather of last night.

Steve Boyd was involved with this ceremony, as usual, so this was probably his work, building on lessons learned in the epic slowness of the Rio parade.

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I liked the Opening Ceremony, but it didn't give me shivers down my spine due excitement - there were some nice visual things, but e.g. the Samsung cell-phone segment was a kind of low-point for me...

My highlights of the opening ceremony were the shirtless athlete from Tonga and the drone Olympic Rings...

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I thought the into video was a good way of showing past Winter Olympic hosts. Sure, it's been done before, but it's an innovative way of representing them without having to announce them in English or Korean or even French, English and Korean.

Too much of the budget seemed to be headed towards fireworks.

Good short parade of nations, where it begins with Hand in Hand from Seoul 1988 and then blasts through K-Pop music.

The drones seemed interesting, but they should have headed towards the ceremonies stadium, not fly past it. For those caught off guard, this effect could have easily been faked and CGI'd. You just have a thousand or so drones randomly fly past the stadium then the video shots show pre-recorded and edited footage.

If I were to rate this out of 10, then I'd give it a decent 7. The one thing they could have really emphasized on (although probably shy'd away for political reasons) is that one of the children could have aspired to be future President of the Republic of Korea. Where in the year 2030, it depicts a united Korea without any mentions of a conflict, power struggle, the regime toppling etc, just a fictional new government building where he is the President showing representatives from all Korean Provinces. Maybe in a new capital city?

Just some thoughts.

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14 hours ago, JMarkSnow2012 said:

Don't forget that the ceremonies budget here includes a stadium which will be dismantled after four shows- at least Sochi got a football venue out of their extravagance.

Only the open stands will be dismantled. The multi-storey enclosed structure (including 5,000 seats) will stay.  The building will house the PC 2018 museum; and I suppose will serves as HQTRS for whatever future competitions will be held in PC. 

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5 hours ago, Athan said:

I agree that the ceremony lacked some wow and more original elements (not easy to do a super spectacular show in a stadium of these characteristics), but overall I think it was nice to watch and the fast pace was perfect. The cauldron lighting was strange indeed. That metallic structure seemed out of place and its meaning is still not clear. Had it been disguised as an ice column or something related to the ice where it came out from, it probably wouldn't have been so puzzling.

Supposedly, the 30 rings on that "alien tongue/coil" represent the 30 years since Seoul 1988.  It was strangely out of place.  

At least this show was far better than the GAUDY Seoul ceremonies and the awful WC 2002 opening.  Stage and stadium were just right.  They really could have worked on a more spectacular (and surprise) Lighting moment to take the viewer's breath away. 

Edited by baron-pierreIV

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My review.

I have three words to describe it: simple, elegant and emotional.

The intro video came back the non-written tradition of recap the past Games (that was done at the Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Atlanta, Athens and London) very original the posters on walls, planes and magazines… I liked both intro segments.

At some points it quite reminded me the OC of Kuala Lumpur SEA Games due to the rounded shape stage and the projections on it.

The Athletes Parade was incredibly punctual, fast, nimble and entertaining. We never had time to get bored as it happens in other Parades… Very Good! I think they found the way to hurry the core part of all ceremonies… Both Koreas marching together is something historical, their leaders shaking their hands is an image that will be the main highlight of this ceremony for ever… The placards bearers were something strange: those tree brunches with an ice at the top… I didn’t understand their meaning (was it?) Still at my top one is Torino bearers and their amazing dresses! Canada with a couple as a flag bearers was so touching and the weird point was again given to Pita Taufatofua, which became in the sex symbol of these latest two games. Anyway I like him! He is so funny and nice… and handsome, too… hehehe…. By the way the delegations order to march in… Could it be a good idea to maintain just one permanent language for it? I never knew when my country (Chile) was going to march in and when I realized I could see only their backs practically… Permanent English is my suggestion…

Led panels on the audience is always a good idea, but it has never given me a wow factor (excepting the first time I saw it at 2011 Pan Arabic Games in Doha) but it is always a good complement… Still chills my body the human mosaic of LA ’84 or the audience light interaction of Guadalajara 2011 Pan Am OC… OK, I know this argument only obey to my “old minded” and “nerd “nature…

Videos now are a common part of the ceremonies… Once it was introduced in London 2012 OC it has never been released… And probably it won’t.

The “led gates” was colorful, entertaining and amazing… One of the highest points of the show, ending with those “led rounded curtains” symbolizing the ideas of the future…

It was sort of disappointing for me one of the most anticipated moments: the rings formation with drones… The clip and music were cool… but… I have a reasonable doubt: was it completely real? Or there is more than one “improvement” to the recorded images? Anyway… the idea is amazing! Making this live I thing is still very difficult to do it.

The cauldron lighting very simple and emotional by watching those girls from the two Koreas handing the torch together… I loved the ice track at the top of the stadium… but it was never clear for me if what Kim Yu-Na ignited: was it a flower? Was it a piece of ice? And the fire pole… was only a mechanical device… I think (what did it represent?)

I loved the idea that a segment start after the cauldron lighting, which is commonly the very end of the ceremony (excepting Torino and its anticipated Pavarotti performance)

Summarizing:

Highest points for me: Again the simplicity but the extremely talented show. As Rio did:  Simple but amazing and lovely!

 

Lowest points: the order of the parade of nations… I don’t like the idea it will change in every OC. Of course, it will be easy to guess the order in English (LA 2028), French (2024) or Spanish (YOG 2018) … But in…. Japanese? Chinese? Simplicity is never a con… but always a pro… since the talent must be put on the stage!

I liked it…. For the media this will be remembered as the Koreas unification in such a tense moment of their history! Instead the exorbitant extravaganza as Beijing did. For me, as a fan, another simple but beautiful ceremony when the art and talent is the wow factor of the show… as every ceremony should be done!

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