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Wednesday, August 3, 2016, 14:38

5 memorable moments from Olympic opening ceremonies

By Associated Press

It's almost game time in Rio, but first there's the pageantry of the Olympic opening ceremony.

Always splashy affairs, the parade of athletes this time around will take place Friday night at Maracana Stadium with a country-by-country show of fashion, along with speeches, flag-raising and the lighting of the Olympic cauldron.

For now, enjoy these moments from opening ceremonies of Olympics past:

5 memorable moments from Olympic opening ceremonies
In this July 28, 2012, file photo, fireworks illuminate the sky over the Olympic Stadium during Opening Ceremonies at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

LONDON 2012

First there was the green of the English countryside, then along came the queen.

Queen Elizabeth II "parachuted" into the stadium with James Bond, the one that's Daniel Craig. Craig played himself after a fictional trip from Buckingham Palace to the stadium in a helicopter. The queen and 007 did not actually take flight, FYI.

More slapstick ensued when "Mr. Bean" actor Rowan Atkinson banged out a single note on an electric keyboard as he helped the London Symphony Orchestra perform the theme from "Chariots of Fire," complete with a dream sequence that had him running on the beach with the athletes in the Olympic-themed movie's famous opening scene.

Oh, and who lit the cauldron? Not David Beckham. He bowed out after failing to make the soccer squad.

5 memorable moments from Olympic opening ceremonies
In this Aug 8, 2008, file photo, dancers perform during the opening ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye, File)

BEIJING 2008

Dazzling doesn't begin to cover it.

First, more than 2,000 drummers played the Fou, a traditional Chinese instrument. They were followed by 10,000 highly rehearsed performers after giant Olympic rings sprang from the floor of the stadium. In all, there were more than 18,000 performers.

There were fireworks, and more fireworks, and still more fireworks, including some that were computer simulated. Lots of openers have fireworks, but they were invented in China some 2,000 years ago, so there's that.

Everything from the silk road to chanting disciples of Confucius was represented in this ceremony.

OK, that was more than one moment, but it was a BIG opening ceremony.

5 memorable moments from Olympic opening ceremonies
Former Chinese Olympic gymnast Li Ning lights the Olympic torch during the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in Beijing on Aug 8, 2008. (AFP PHOTO / JEWEL SAMAD)

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