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5 changes to watch for at the 2012 Summer Olympics

Expect the unexpected at the opening ceremonies

Summer Olympics 2012

Summer Olympics 2012

Credit: AP Photo

With the Summer Games right around the corner, we all want to know what to expect beyond Michael Phelps sweeping up in swimming. While there aren't too many changes (only two sports -- softball and baseball -- were cut following the 2008 Summer Games), some of them are important and will impact you (at least they will if you want to watch online). Here's a rundown.


1) The opening ceremonies are going to be a little edgy this year
Let's face it. Usually, the opening ceremonies are a little dull. We get a lot of pomp and circumstance and very, very little substance. Not this time around. The director is Danny Boyle ("Trainspotting"), and from what we hear he isn't sugar coating his perspective on the great moments in British history. The theme is "Isle of Wonder," but as sweet as that sounds, following a bucolic opening we'll see dark buildings and smokestacks, Depression-era jobless protesters, miners and factory workers. But never fear -- it won't be one long history lesson. We'll also see characters from "Alice in Wonderland," "Peter Pan" and "Harry Potter." Music will range from the Beatles and the Who to the Sex Pistols (yes, the Sex Pistols at the Olympics) and the theme to "Chariots of Fire." Finally, it will all get wrapped up with a performance from Paul McCartney, who will be leading the audience in a feel-good sing-along to "Hey Jude." Count us in.


2) Good-bye baseball, hello women's boxing

While baseball and softball were cut, new events for 2012's Summer Games include women's boxing (three weight classes), mixed doubles in tennis and Omnium racing in track cycling.


3) There will be no moment of silence
It's been 40 years since 11 Israeli athletes and coaches were killed by Palestinian gunmen at the Munich Games, but International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge will not schedule a moment of silence at the London Olympics. Some U.S., Israeli and German politicians lobbied for the change, but they will have to be content with a ceremony to be held in Germany on the anniversary of the attack on Sept. 5 at the military airfield of Furstenfeldbruck, which is where most of the Israelis died.


4) Women will get some new opportunities

While some track cycling fans have expressed disappointment, five medals are now up for grabs for women as well as men. That's meant some cuts -- individual pursuit for men and women, points race and the men's Madison are gone, while the omnium has been added for both sexes along with a team sprint. The hope is that the omnium, which is like the track and field decathlon, will add some excitement to the velodrome. Saudi Arabia will also be sending female athletes to the Olympics for the first time -- 800-meter runner Sarah Attar and judoku Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani.


5) Athletes -- both male and female -- will have to get down with pink and purple
In an attempt to brighten up the Olympics, the traditional girls' bedroom colors will be everywhere -- even where they aren't such a great idea. The walls of Wimbeldon are currently purple, and the floor of the North Greenwich Arena, where male and female gymnasts will compete, is covered in Barbie dream house-worthy pink. The "blinding" candy color is apparently already creating problems for athletes, who have a hard time finding the horizon when all they see is pink. Three-time world champion Kohei Uchimura wiped out twice on the high bar during practice, while U.S. men's team captain Jonathan Horton also struggled.
 

Bonus -- Watching will be easier -- if you have cable

For the first time ever, NBC will be making all content available live online (well, all content except for the opening ceremonies). The catch? You need to have an account with a cable, satellite or telco TV service provider. You'll need to input your user name (if you haven't registered online with, say, DirecTV, before, you'll want to do it now) to get access at nbcolympics.com. Not a big deal -- unless you want to see, say, a sprint live and find the process of logging in for the first time causes you to miss the whole thing. The fix: log in and register now, before you need to do it. 

Liane-bonin-starr-sm
Liane Bonin Starr is an author, screenwriter and former writer for EW.com. Her byline has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Variety and a lot of other places. Her last book was called "a scandalously catty, guilty pleasure" by Jane magazine. Expect the same from Starr Raving.
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