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6 Things You Didn't Know About the Olympics Opening Ceremony

Sam the Eagle, 1984 Summer Olympics mascot | Tony Duffy/Getty Images Sport
Sam the Eagle, 1984 Summer Olympics mascot | Tony Duffy/Getty Images Sport

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History is made with every opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, like that time Hitler presided over the event (boo!), that one where Muhammad Ali lit the flame (yay!), and that bit where James Bond parachuted into a stadium with the Queen of England (boo-yay!). Olympics opening ceremonies are getting increasingly ornate, and you can be sure to expect a stupendous spectacle when the Games of the XXXI Olympiad kick off tonight from Rio de Janeiro. While you're watching the endless Parade of Nations, check out these eight cool, weird, and impressive entertainment factoids relating to opening ceremonies that not even Bob Costas could make boring.

The opening ceremony is two awards shy of an EGOT

The Olympics earned the "G" part of the awards-season acronym when long-time Spielberg collaborator John Williams nabbed a Grammy for composing the official music of the Los Angeles 1984 Olympics Games. Director Danny Boyle and two co-producers picked up the "E" by winning a primetime Emmy for the London 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony. Quick, somebody come up with a musical based on the opening ceremony that wins a Tony and gets adapted into a movie that wins an Oscar!

Doctor Who nearly wrote itself into the 2012 ceremony 

In the 2006 Doctor Who episode "Fear Her," the Doctor (who was played at that time by David Tennant) finds himself carrying the Olympic torch into the stadium at the 2012 London Games. (London had been announced as the 2012 location in 2005.) Six years later, the creative team behind the real 2012 Opening Ceremony drafted up a montage that featured the series' theme song and all 11 actors who'd played Doctor Who, but it was cut for time. Bummer! Doctor Who fans did get to see then-Doctor Matt Smith carrying the torch in the days ahead of the Games, as well as the TARDIS sound being played over Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody."

Doves had to die to bring you the 1988 Olympics

In what Time magazine calls the worst opening ceremony ever, viewers watched a flock of doves get burned alive when the ceremonially-released birds took roost on the Olympics cauldron rather than flap their wings, fly away and not get burned to a crisp on national television. Doves would never be used in the ceremony again, which is probably good, because their droppings reportedly used to make for some bad vibes in the stadium. And animals are still used at the opening ceremony from time to time; for instance, 12 horses, three cows, two goats, 10 chickens, 10 ducks, nine geese, 70 sheep, and three sheepdogs made an appearance at the London 2012 Summer Games.

Thanks to Nipplegate, even fake nudity got banned in 2004

In homage to their ancestors who started this whole Olympics thing and competed in the buff, the 2004 Summer Olympics, held in Athens, featured performers dressing up as they did in ancient times -- meaning, sans clothing. But the actors were merely wearing nude outfits. While many countries chose to air the artistic ceremony without editing it for television, NBC did not go there. Held just six months after Nipplegate and fearful of possible FCC fines, NBC deemed it necessary to crop out and pixelate the "nudity" for the U.S. telecast.

EDM was introduced at the 1964 ceremony in Japan

Long before Tiësto was spinning at the raved-up 2004 opening ceremony, the Japanese brought electronic music to the 1964 Tokyo Games, with an orchestra performing an electronic score using IBM computers. Does Zac Ephron know about this?

We were promised jet packs in 1984

At this point, we've given up waiting for jet packs to be made available to us. We'll have to make do with watching Bill Suitor fly through the Los Angeles air in what remains the single most eye-popping moment in Olympics opening ceremony history.

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Ted Simmons is a Thrillist contributor who last wrote about the weird and wild history of the Super Bowl halftime show.