Music has always had a ceremonial role in the Olympic Games, and the competition has a rich history of fine official songs and notable orchestral and choral works inspired by sport. The world’s most popular musicians, including Stevie Wonder, Spice Girls and The Kinks’ Ray Davies, have performed at closing ceremonies, but many of the best Olympics music performances have come from the event’s opening ceremonies, among them Etta James’ version of When The Saints Go Marching In, which she delivered in 1984 accompanied by a gospel choir.
Here, then, are the ten best Olympics music performances that have defined opening ceremonies down the years, from both the heat of summer and the chill of the Winter Games.
Best Olympics Music Performances: 10 Unforgettable Opening Ceremony Moments
10: Olivia Newton-John and John Farnham: Dare To Dream (Sydney, 2000)
Olivia Newton-John, known to the world as one of the stars of the 1978 musical film Grease, grew up in Australia, though she was actually born in Cambridge, England. John, wisely chosen ahead of Rolf Harris, said it was one of the most “exciting honours of my life” to sing for the whole world at Sydney’s lavish opening ceremony in 2000. Her performance was a duet with John Farnham, who’d had a global hit in 1986 with You’re The Voice. They teamed up to deliver a memorable version of Dare To Dream. “It was, and will always be, one of the greatest joys of my life,” said Sydney native Vanessa Corish, who co-wrote Dare To Dream with her partner, Paul Begaud, and Nashville’s Wayne Tester.