How to decode the Olympic opening ceremonies

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The opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing was unforgettable. In a marriage of technology, artistry, scale, and coordination, it announced to the world that contemporary China had fully arrived as a major force on the world stage.

Beijing’s opening set an impossible standard for technical ambition and execution. But it also raised the bar for what an Olympic host nation can communicate to the world through ceremony. In the video above, we look at the messages other recent Olympic host countries have embedded in their opening ceremonies, and what Rio might be trying to say with theirs.