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Everything to Know About the 2024 Olympics Opening Ceremony in Paris

Read why this year's celebrations will be bigger and better than ever, while still upholding traditions formed during the 1920 Games in Antwerp, Belgium. 

By Jax Miller

The Paris 2024 Olympic Games are months away, and millions of spectators worldwide can expect an opening ceremony unlike any other.

The time-honored tradition kicks off in Paris, France, on Friday, July 26, 2024, launching the Summer Games, which will continue through Sunday, August 11, 2024. NBC and Peacock will host the live events, showcasing the globe’s finest athletes in swimming, gymnastics, and more.

A complete event list and schedule can be found on the NBC Olympics page, as can information on athletes, results, news, and more.

For now, here’s everything the world can look forward to about the Olympic Games' opening ceremony and why officials say it will be bigger and better than ever:

About the Opening Ceremony

The grand ceremony is a formal tradition that began to take shape during the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp, Belgium, according to the official Olympics page. Since then, alterations have been made to make the ceremony what it is today, adhering to a protocol guide by the International Olympic Committee (I.O.C.) called the Olympic Charter.

“The philosophy and ceremonial aspects which surround the Olympic Games distinguish them from all other international sports events,” according to I.O.C. “Through music, song, dance, and fireworks, the opening and closing ceremonies invite people to discover the culture of the country in which the Games are taking place.”

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The official website states that France’s capital city will host the hub of the Games, which will include 15 Olympic sites and 11 Paralympic sites, per the official website. Other events will occur in six separate stadiums across the country, including in the cities of Nice, Marseille, Bordeaux, Nantes, Lyon, and Saint-Etienne.

What to Expect

French Elite acrobatic team Patrouille de France flies over the Eiffel Tower.

The 2024 Games’ opening ceremony “will be bold, original, and unique,” promising to become one of “the most memorable moments in Olympic history,” according to the 2024 Games’ website. What sets the upcoming spectacle apart from those of the past is that it will not take place in a stadium.

Instead, the event will bring sports into the city, featured along the Seine.

Where to Buy Tickets to the Paris Opening Ceremony

Also unlike ceremonies past, there will be no admission fee for hundreds of thousands of guests, something they say is “a major first.” The event is slated to be “the largest ever held in the history of the Games.”

“Taking on a new guise, the parade of athletes will be held on the Seine, with boats for each national delegation, equipped with cameras to allow television and online viewers to see the athletes up close,” according to the site. “Wending their way from east to west, the 10,500 athletes will thus cross through the center of Paris, the overall playing field for the Games, which will showcase their sporting prowess over the next 16 days.”

The precession will last six kilometers (about 3.7 miles) and conclude at the Trocadéro, where the ceremonial events will continue.

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Per the I.O.C.’s guidelines, Rule 55, the opening ceremony follows strict protocol, including which words the host country’s head of state (in this case, French President Emmanuel Macron) uses during their official speech.

The I.O.C. highlights 11 main elements to be checked off during the opening ceremony, beginning with the entrance of the head of state and the I.O.C. President, who is currently Thomas Bach. Next, the opening ceremony plays the host country’s National Anthem (“La Marseillaise” for France) as the host country’s flag is hoisted.

The athletes will then participate in the aforementioned parade, followed by a symbolic release of doves.

“The image of one soldier for each country’s delegation releasing doves — a symbol of peace — was a striking visual representation of the role the Games hoped the play,” the Olympics said of when the tradition started in 1920.

Following the doves’ release, the I.O.C. awards its Olympic Laurel “to honor outstanding individuals for their achievements in education, culture, development, and peace throughout the sport.”

Olympic Rings display in front of the Paris City Hall.

The Olympic Laurel was designed in 2016, its previous recipients being two-time track and field gold-medal winner Kipchoge “Kip” Keino and Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus.

After awarding the Laurel, the opening ceremony will continue with its official speeches. The Olympic flag will then be raised to the Olympic Anthem (or the Olympic Hymn) before athletes, coaches, and judges participate in the Olympic Oath.

Months before the opening ceremony, “a flame is lit in Olympia, in Greece,” recalling “the link between the ancient Olympic Games and their modern counterpart,” per the Olympics official page. The Olympic Flame is then relayed, primarily by athletes on foot, and carried to the host city.

“Throughout the Torch Relay, the flame announces the Olympic Games and spreads a message of peace and friendship between peoples. The Torch relay ends at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. The final runner (or sometimes runners) enters the stadium and lights the cauldron with the Olympic flame. The Games can begin!”

After the torch ceremony,  a tradition carried since the 1936 Berlin Olympics, the opening ceremony concludes with the Olympic Artists Program, sponsored by the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage.

For the 2021 Tokyo Games, the video of the entire Opening Ceremony is about four hours long. So, pace yourself with the popcorn!

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Recent Changes to the Opening Ceremony

Crowds in Paris were expected to reach more than half a million people, prompting the allocation of tens of thousands of police officers and soldiers. However, on Wednesday, January 31, 2024, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin announced they were downsizing to accommodate about 300,000 guests, according to The Associated Press.

“I know that we have the best security forces in the world, and we’ll be able to show that France is capable of winning medals and, above all, of hosting the world without any problems,” said Darmanin.

Darmanin didn’t reveal what prompted the downsizing, though French President Emmanuel Macron previously said a change of venue might be necessary, citing extremist attacks of the past.

How To Watch

Peyton Manning Mike Tirico and Kelly Clarkson on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon episode 1938

Mike Tirico, Kelly Clarkson, and Peyton Manning will host a portion of NBC's coverage of the event from their booth, located at the Trocadero near the ceremony’s finish. Joining them are TODAY show hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb, who will keep viewers updated on the parade, offering details on uniforms and more. 

Watch live coverage of the Opening Ceremony on Friday, July 26, on NBC and Peacock beginning at Noon ET. Telemundo will provide Spanish-language coverage beginning at 1 p.m. ET. Primetime coverage starts at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT on NBC and Peacock.

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