5 memorable moments from Olympic opening ceremonies

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:

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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.

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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.

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SYDNEY 2000

Well, the Man from Snowy River scared the bejesus out of his horse with the crack of a whip to open this opening ceremony, followed by a little girl who conked out in the middle of the stadium to introduce a dream sequence featuring huge jellyfish and other sea life.

But the best part was the last torchbearer, who waded into water and seemingly lit a soggy, spaceship-like cauldron on fire as she stood in the center. It was then airlifted up and up on a set of tracks amid waterfalls and fireworks.

Did I mention there were people on horses? Lots of them, including some who galloped into circles to form the Olympic rings.

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LOS ANGELES 1984

A dude arrived by jet pack. 'nuf said. The Jetsons generation had been patient.

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MOSCOW 1980

This was the year of the U.S.-led Olympic boycott, reducing the number of participating countries to 80.

It was also the year of the stackable human. Pyramids of gymnasts and dancers constructed towers, including one with participants all in white surrounded by a circle of other participants on the ground in pink.

Another human construction came in yellow, with mad respect for the performers in the middle who had to lean out and hang upside down as the shape of the bodies fanned out.

A "children's show" featured legions of other humans dressed as brown bears dancing and prancing before even more legions of humans in white shorts danced and pranced on white-headed hobbyhorses.

It wasn't real, kids, but you might want to NOT look at it on YouTube.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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