The claim: The 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony predicted the coronavirus crisis
As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the world in the spring of 2020, odd memes and conspiracy theories spread along with it, including one related to the 2012 Summer Olympics.
The theory says that back in 2012, a segment of the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games in London predicted the coronavirus crisis.
Nearly a year later, the theory is still spreading, even though nothing in the Olympics performance mentions the new type of coronavirus that emerged in China late in 2019. A woman in Canada shared the theory on Facebook on Jan. 13. The user did not respond to a request for comment from USA TODAY.
The 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony was four hours long and highlighted British history and culture.
The conspiracy theory concentrates on a 15-minute portion.
This part was designed to honor and celebrate Great Britain’s National Health Service (a government program that provides health care at low cost), a British children’s hospital, and the nation’s body of children’s literature. A video of the ceremony is available on YouTube, and is discussed at the Olympic Games website and in articles about it over the years.
The performers included patients from the children’s hospital and real medical personnel.
The Health Service and children’s literature part of the show was a bonkers spectacle.
It had creepy music (including “Tubular Bells,” a song used in “The Exorcist” horror film), dance music, dancing nurses, characters on roller skates, children in pajamas jumping on hospital beds, towering villainous puppets, and a fleet of Mary Poppins nannies who flew in with their umbrellas to chase away frightening monsters.
The conspiracy theorists see clues to the pandemic in the performance.
The conspiracy theories
The image that the Facebook user shared is a photo from the ceremony. It shows nurses in vintage costumes standing among children in antique-style hospital beds that glow with light. There is a giant sculpture of a sleeping baby in the background.
“They told us in 2012,” states the headline text on the photo.
In the comments, the woman added a longer video clip to allegedly provide further explanation.
The video shows the nurses putting the children to bed as a lullaby plays. The nurses put their fingers over their lips with the “shh” gesture to tell the children to be quiet and go to sleep. The video adds still photos of former President Barack Obama with a finger over his lips in the “shh, be quiet” gesture, and similar photos of former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and other famous people.
The video ends as a girl in bed reads the “Peter Pan” novel by flashlight under the covers. Then it jumps ahead in the performance to show a moment of the monsters entering the scene among the beds.
To add more information, another commenter shared a poster of famous people making the “shh” gesture. It says “Vow of Silence” and the gesture is a reminder of the Masonic “obligation of silence.” At the top is a quote by Freemason philosopher Manly P. Hall about reading symbolism.
This all translates in the minds of the conspiracy theorists to the London ceremony in 2012 predicted the pandemic in 2020.
In reality, the ceremony was a celebration of a British institution and its culture. There is no reference to the pandemic or the novel coronavirus.
Our ruling: False
We rate the claim that a segment of the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics predicted the coronavirus pandemic FALSE, based on our research. The performance, designed to celebrate Great Britain’s National Health Service and history of children’s literature at the same time, is certainly an unusual mashup, but nothing in it said or depicted anything about the coronavirus.
Our fact-check sources:
YouTube: Opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.
Olympics.org, webpage for the 2012 Opening Ceremony.
Myth Detector, May 11, 2020, assessment of the conspiracy theory.
Reuters, May 14, 2020, ’False claim: London Olympic Games ceremony symbolically predicted the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Guardian, July 28, 2012, Olympics opening ceremony: US media reacts to 'peculiar' British festival
The Camden New Journal, Aug. 2, 2012, LONDON 2012: Nurses and patients from GOSH and UCLH play a starring role in Danny Boyle’s spectacular Olympic opening ceremony in the ceremony.
Metro, July, 27, 2017, I was part of the London Olympics opening ceremony five years ago.
Encyclopedia Britannica, British National Health Service.
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This article originally appeared on The Fayetteville Observer: Fact check: London Olympics ceremony did not predict the coronavirus