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Olympics Opening Ceremony Liveblog and Spoilers

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Image: ST Foreign Desk via Twitter

We got up at 3 a.m. this morning to watch the Olympics Opening Ceremony, because NBC is embargoing this spectacular show until tonight’s 8 p.m. tape-delay broadcast. Thanks to a lovely pirated stream of the BBC, the International Broke-Ass Olympics Committee is able to provide you this complete, minute-by-minute breakdown of everything that happens throughout the whole extravaganza.

2:54 a.m.- We have an insane little pre-game deal where two people are karate chopping wooden blocks in the middle of a giant, thousand-yard circle. I could seriously watch this all night.

3:02 a.m.- Shit appears to be getting started. The giant, thousand-yard circle now has a big ol’ robot in the center, accompanied by a fairly sweet light show and some perfunctory fireworks.


3:07 a.m. – A really fucking nicely designed Chinese New Year-style tiger comes out in amid an epic folk dance with hundreds of people. The tiger is joined by a large dragon, a nightmarish bird, and a tortoise, but the tiger is winning this segment for sure. A barrage of grade-A visual effects are happening in the strange, gigantic circle.


3:15 a.m. – Koreans are clearly better at LED light displays then Americans. Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium is rigged up with these blinky, multi-color LED boxes that are coordinated to perform stunning visual effects. The audience has been given fake LED “torches” that are also in on the fun.

3:18 a.m. – The opening show is a gas, but Twitter is being pretty severe about blocking embedded video from U.S. IP addresses. Someone named Sarah has created a very fabulous gif that gives you a pretty good sense of the haps. Aerial shots with fireworks for miles are frequently interspersed.


3:23 a.m. – Dozens of little children in It’s a Small World-style winterwear sing the Korean National Anthem. It is news to me that the South Korean and North Korean teams are competing together as the “Unified Korean Team”, which I suppose is a nice development.

3:25 a.m. – We are now in “the shank of the evening” that is the Parade of Nations. It usually takes like an hour and a half of show until they get around to this part! Greece goes first, as is the custom because they invented these proceedings. Each team is led by a Korean Snow Princess whose outfit is to fucking die for.

3:38 a.m. – Aaaand we hear the song “Gangnam Style” for the first time! The whole Parade of Nations component is featuring some really excellent K-Pop and MIDI tracks that will have you Shazam-ing with unusual frequency.

3:40 a.m. – U.S.A! The ugly Americans are introduced in ugly Christmas sweater-style gear designed by Ralph Lauren. You’ll probably love the fringey burlap gloves, but then you’ll puke your guts out when the camera cuts to Mike Pence in the audience.

3:41 a.m. – There is one — one! — athlete from Bermuda competing. He comes out in Bermuda shorts. Respect.

4 a.m. – Jamaica really does have a bobsled team! Cool Runnings was actually based on a true story!!! Sorry I am just now learning this.

4:13 a.m. – HELLO! Check this motherfucker from Tonga, oiled up and shirtless in freezing temperatures. His name is Pita Taufatofua and he does this every time.

4:18 a.m. – OK, the nations are all introduced and we switch back to performance mode. One single elderly man in extremely ancient-looking apparel is crooning out a solo, by himself. It is poignant as hell. Then the show switches to some “inspiring” video of little kids growing up to be adults in some quasi-futuristic world in which people are able to move things telekinetically with their hands, which is much stupider.

4:27 a.m.- Finally, some break-dancing! The Taiko drumming is terrific and dancers are also pushing these giant LED-lit boxy structures that do some mildly impressive stuff but I have seen better at Burning Man.


4:30 a.m. – Whoa, best shit yet! The Koreans have figured out how to build these insane goddamned ‘towers of light’ that are simply captivating. The LED and fireworks situation is just off the charts right now.

4:32 a.m. – So much for the good stuff! A string of surely corrupt International Olympic Committee officials is being welcomed onstage to give painfully boring speeches that no one wants to hear.

4:44 a.m.- The awful speeches get drowned out with old-school Russian propaganda orchestra music. Then a quartet of Korean vocalists perform a version of that old K-Pop hit “Imagine” by John Lennon, while people surround them making bird formations with lights.

4:51 a.m. – A fleet of 1,000 nanodrones put on a light show in the shape of a giant snowboarder and then fly out of the stadium. The drones fly off to meet a group of actual human snowboarders at a nearby slope. The snowboarders appear to have torches. How cool would it be if they lit the Olympic torch while shredding on  snowboards? This does not happen, and the snowboarding segment proves itself totally worthless.

4:57 a.m. – Obviously lip-synching opera star Su-mi Hwang bores the shit of everyone with a slow, plodding number, but her golden dress with pastel sleeve details more than makes up for it. Three dudes then read the Olympic Oath. In Korean, the word “Olympics” is pronounced “Olympics.”

5:01 a.m. – Whoa, they’re playing the torch-relay video montage, you know what’s coming! I gotta say that several cities did up some really nice shit when the torch came to their town. But apparently they let a drone carry the torch for a portion of the journey, which… kind of eliminates point?

5:07 a.m. – BEST. TORCH LIGHTING. EVER. A North Korean and South Korean athlete do a little unity thing where they carry the torch together up an incalculably tall half-pipe. At the top of the half-pipe, figure skater Kim Yuna performs a breathtaking ice dance number surrounded by  incredible ice sculptures. She is handed the torch, and sets of a “Fire and Ice” segment of machinations reminiscent of the Game of Thrones opening credits wherein a giant automated spike catches fire and delivers the flame up to the cauldron. You absolutely must watch this pirated Korean TV video of the torch lighting wherein the announcers go bananas because apparently Kim Yuna is a big deal over there.

5:10 a.m. – It is lit! More fireworks, more drones, more LED shows and we’re done in a mere two hours and ten minutes. This shit went for four hours at the Brazil 2016 Olympics! But I’m sure NBC will ways to cram enough commercials into tonight’s broadcast to make your Olympics Opening Ceremony experience last for more than four hours.

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Joe Kukura is a two-bit marketing writer who excels at the homoerotic double-entendre. He is training to run a full marathon completely drunk and high, and his work has appeared in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal on days when their editors made particularly curious decisions.

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