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Madison Czopek
By Madison Czopek July 30, 2021

No, the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics didn’t predict the pandemic

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• There is no evidence that the opening ceremony from the 2012 London Olympic games predicted the COVID-19 pandemic.

• The opening ceremony featured a tribute to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service and to British children’s literature that included images of doctors and nurses standing beside hospital beds as a large, hooded figure loomed overhead — Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter series.

• The opening ceremonies of the London Olympics were performed on July 27, 2012.

Nurses and children dancing on and around hospital beds. A massive, hooded figure looming overhead as figures wearing all-black chase children from their beds.  

These were among the scenes featured in the 2012 London Olympics’ opening ceremony.

At the time, the symbolism on stage was easy to figure out. But photos of the ceremony have reemerged on social media recently to suggest that something sinister was happening. "Remember the 2012 Olympics, with the Giant black figure and all of the hospital beds?" asked one Facebook user. "It's starting to make a lot more sense now."

The post suggests the 2012 Olympics uncannily foreshadowed the global coronavirus crisis. 

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

A number of fact-checking organizations have debunked claims that the 2012 opening ceremonies were ominously clairvoyant about the pandemic.

The scenes from the opening ceremony on July 27, 2012, can be explained without any supernatural fortune-telling: They were part of a tribute to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service and British children’s literature such as Harry Potter and Mary Poppins. 

The nurses and children dancing and bouncing on and around hospital beds? Many of the volunteer dancers worked for the NHS — a longstanding national healthcare institution the UK prides itself on. The giant, hooded black figure depicted among the hospital beds? That’s Voldemort from Harry Potter. 

The Olympic website describes the segment of the opening ceremony as "a celebration of British history and culture" that "paid tribute to Britain’s National Health Service and its amazing body of children’s literature." 

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Similarly, the Olympic media guide says that the opening ceremony honored "two of Britain’s greatest achievements: its amazing body of children’s literature and its National Health Service."

A review of the opening ceremony by the Hollywood Reporter described the segment this way:

"An extended tribute followed to – wait for it – the U.K.’s National Health Service. Mike Oldfield played ‘Tubular Bells,’ while what looked like hundreds of volunteer nurses and medical professionals took on dance duty. The segment effectively tapped into Britain’s rich tradition of children’s literature via a celebration of Great Ormond Street Hospital, which was largely financed by royalties from J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan [...] 

"As kids were tucked up under illuminated duvets, their bedtime reading conjured villains from Cruella de Vil to Captain Hook to the Queen of Hearts to Voldemort, all of them eventually banished by a flock of Mary Poppinses swooping in under flying umbrellas." 

Though the scene was perhaps an unusual or unexpected part of the opening ceremony for many spectators — a New York Times reporter called the NHS scene "zany" and described the ceremony overall as "a sometimes slightly insane portrait" of the U.K. — it wasn’t predictive.

A video of the full opening ceremony is available on YouTube

Our ruling

A post on Facebook claims "the giant black figure and all of the hospital beds" featured in the opening ceremony at the London Olympics in 2012 now makes "a lot more sense," implying that the ceremony predicted the pandemic. 

There is no evidence that the opening ceremony from the London games predicted the COVID-19 crisis. The opening ceremony featured a tribute to the NHS and to British children’s literature, which included images of doctors and nurses standing beside hospital beds as Voldemort loomed overhead.

We rate this claim Pants on Fire!

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No, the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics didn’t predict the pandemic

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