The 2012 London Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony (Hereafter LSOOC) was watched by 62,000 spectators in the stadium and an estimated audience of one billion across all five continents, it was for a few hours the focal-point of the world. This essay will conclude that the live broadcast of this major-sporting media event has become economically significant; primarily as a result of the increasing global commercialisation of sport.
Sport is seen as the most desirable element of television viewing. It has played a significant role in the growth of television, especially during its emergence as a global technological innovation in the 1960s (Whannel, 2009:201). It can be agreed that television has transformed sport, in a way that it is rare to have one week without an international televised sporting event (Glenn, forthcoming).
The live broadcasts of sporting events have the power to engage viewers with an embedded suspense of ‘who will win?’ It has been internationalized and become globalised in a way that fans in South Africa can follow the fortunes of Tour de France or the German Formula One Racing (Glenn, forthcoming). This essay will analyse how the live broadcast of the 2012 London Olympics Opening Ceremony constitutes as a media event and the global significance that it devotes to the host country.
Definitions and Types
To understand the concept of what constitutes as a media event, we use the description given by Dayan and Katz (1992). According to these two authors, media events are monopolistic interruptions of routine. They intervene in the scheduled flow of broadcasting (1992:5) and stimulate viewers to turn to the event.
These media events can be subdivided into three 'scripts' as defined by Dayan and Katz (1992). However, this analysis of the 2012 LSOOC only constitutes for two of the ‘scripts’, more specifically ‘Coronations’ and ‘Contests’. Dayan and Katz (1992) define ‘Contests’ as “rule-governed battles” where individuals or teams compete for victory. These ‘battles’ include major sporting events such as the Olympic Games or presidential elections. They are recurrent rituals that are held every given season. Similar to ‘Contests’, ‘Coronations’ are also rituals. They proceed according to strict rules. However, these rules are governed by tradition as oppose to authority. ‘Coronations’ are ceremonial the “rites of passage” (1992:31) such as festivities and royal traditions. ‘Coronations’ accelerate the viewer’s anticipation of whether the event will succeed or be undermined as the result of a minor miscalculation.
The opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games classifies as a 'Coronation' in itself; as it glorifies the chosen country as a host and invites audiences to promote unity and celebrate tradition. Concurrently, mixed elements of 'Contests' among the opening ceremonies of past Olympic Games and other mega sporting events are notable.
Major-sporting events as a Media Events
The Olympic Games are pre-planned in a way that it dominates the pages of major newspapers. This sporting event is promoted in a manner that it urges women to provide the necessary ‘viewing-orientated snack food for their menfolk’ (Whannel 2009:206).
Media events that involve sport often become the occasion for carnivalesque behaviour, this includes: face painting, singing, parting and the wearing of eccentric costumes and headgear. At the 2012 London Olympic Games, South African supporters wore green and gold to represent the country along with festively adorned safety helmets and blew through long plastic horns to create uproar.
However, It was noticed that when the host country’s team was no longer involved in the event as in the 2010 Fifa World Cup, although South Africa failed to qualify for the finals, the South African flag was still seen flying. This is a way in which...