NEW YORK >> The choreographer of a somber segment in the London Olympics opening ceremony said today he’s disappointed that the NBC television network decided not to show it to an American audience.
Spectators were asked to display photos of loved ones who could not be there during the segment. The music, a hymn called “Abide With Me,” was described in the ceremony’s program as an “honest expression of the fear of approaching death.”
NBC producers did not air it, instead showing American viewers host Ryan Seacrest’s interview with swimmer Michael Phelps.
“I am disappointed,” said Londoner Akram Khan, who choreographed and danced in the segment. “I am really sad that I couldn’t show the work in America, and that really upsets me, because I don’t think it’s any more or less than the other pieces. It brings to mind the question … that maybe it’s too truthful.”
The ceremony’s program describes the performance as dramatizing “the struggle between life and death using such powerful images of mortality as dust and the setting sun.”
Some in the British press have interpreted the segment as being a tribute to victims of the bomb attacks in July 2005 that killed 52 commuters and four suicide bombers on London’s transit network. During the BBC live coverage of the ceremony, commentator Hazel Irvine made the connection while the dance was taking place: “The excitement of that moment in Singapore seven years ago when London won the games was tempered with great sorrow the very next day,” when the terror attacks took place, she said.
NBC said it had no indication that the segment was a reference to the terrorist attacks.
Although in many places the ceremony was aired in full, NBC aired it on a tape-delayed basis and made editing changes. The network said there are often such production decisions when showing a taped version of a ceremony.
“Our program is tailored for the U.S. television audience,” said NBC Sports spokesman Greg Hughes. “It’s a credit to (ceremony director) Danny Boyle that it required so little editing.”