The veteran of multiple Olympic opening and closing ceremonies is working on a 30-minute show that will air before the first match of the World Cup on Sunday.

Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome – First The World Cup in the Middle East. The first World Cup will start in November. First modern edition based around a single city. First in an Arab country.

Now add “first World Cup with an Olympic-style opening ceremony” to the list of new things Tournament in Qatar Starting on Sunday.

Creative director Marco Balich, a veteran of multiple Olympic opening and closing ceremonies, told The Associated Press that he had been working on the 30-minute show for a year before the opening game between Qatar and Ecuador. its okay.

“The supreme committee wanted to put on a real show, which FIFA is not used to,” Baleich said in a phone interview from Doha, referring to Qatar’s local organizing committee.

There was a reason for the extravagant ceremony to take place in August. The start of the World Cup has been postponed by a day. In the late switch — to give the show a more prominent place to watch.

“FIFA and the High Committee — especially FIFA — realized how much effort was being put into creating the ceremony and creating something for the first time that was not just a song before the opening game,” Balić said. said

One of the few details many fans remember from previous World Cup opening ceremonies was Diana Ross missing a penalty kick during a song and dance act in Chicago in 1994.

Balich is promising a lot of substance in Qatar, showing the treatment of migrant workers, human rights and the conservative country’s treatment of gays and lesbians during the event. Concerns will be addressed.

“I can’t spoil the surprise, but the issues that are being discussed right now will definitely be addressed and answered,” Bleich said. “It is not about appeasing the West but the platform on which Asia and the Western world can meet comfortably. … I think you will have answers to all the criticisms and issues that have been raised. “

Balich, who is Italian, began his Olympic experience at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games with the flag handover ceremony in Turin.

Unlike the full-fledged events created for the 2006, 2014, 2016 and 2020 Olympics in Turin, Sochi, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo respectively, Balich was given strict instructions for the event by Qatar’s ruling emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

“The message and content of this show was personally developed by the country’s leadership,” said Balich, who is working with co-artistic director Ahmed Al-Bakar. “They want to talk about multiculturalism, embracing diversity and being a platform for peace.”

Sheikh Hamad has been a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for two decades and has participated in many of Balich’s events. So it’s not surprising that the rich want Olympic-style production.

The event — and the tournament in general — is also an audition for Doha’s bid to host the Summer Olympics.

Doha has expressed interest in bidding for the Olympics three times but has so far failed to make the candidate list.

Last year when the IOC blindsided the Qatari authorities. BRISBANE EXCLUSIVE BIDDING RIGHTS And then awarded the 2032 Games to the Australian city.

Next available is Summer Games 2036.

Doha has been awarded the 2030 Asian Games.

Big spenders

Although the event’s budget doesn’t come close to that of the Olympic opener — mostly due to the difference in length, Olympic ceremonies typically last for hours with parades of athletes and all manner of protocol — Balich said Qatar is “investing Not afraid of. In artistic quality.

“We have a team of 900 people with the best choreographers and lighting technicians in the world,” Balich added. “I think this will be a big step in the history of the World Cup, and the next edition will inherit the challenge of creating a big show for the USA, Mexico and Canada that will strengthen the experience and identity of the entire tournament. “

A Super Bowl is not a halftime show.

Although Balich has yet to divulge details of the show’s content, he did say that “famous actors and artists” will be involved.

“But this is not the Super Bowl halftime show,” he added. “It’s a real event with content about Qatar and emphasizes the fact that it’s a tournament of many firsts: the first time it’s been played in winter. the first time it’s been played in an Arab country. And This is the first time that eight stadiums have spanned a single city.

Confirmed performers at the event include K-pop star Jungkook.

The ceremony and the opening game are to be held at the tent-shaped Albeit Stadium, which has a capacity of 60,000.

When is the World Cup opening ceremony?

The event will begin at 5:40 pm local time (1440 GMT, 9:40 am EST) and end 30 minutes later. After that, the teams of Qatar and Ecuador will come to the field for pre-match warm-up and the opening match will start at 7 pm.

Closing ceremony

Balich is also directing a closing ceremony before the World Cup final on December 18 that he says will be “low-key in terms of content.”

“It will be more of a celebration of the tournament with the feeling that the focus for the final is almost always on two teams participating,” he added.

Corniche shows

Finally, Balich is creating a daily water display on Doha’s Corniche, the city’s promenade along the bay.

Featuring fountains, drones and fire, Ballich said the Corniche display will be three times larger than the fountain show at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

AP Sports Writer Graham Dunbar in Geneva contributed to this report.

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