Euro 2008 opens with short ceremony

June 7th, 2008 - 11:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Basle (Switzerland), June 7 (DPA) The 13th European football championships, Euro 2008, opened Saturday with a short ceremony ahead of the first game between co-host Switzerland and the Czech Republic. Conceptualized by French artistic director Martin Arnaud, the 13-minute opening was based on a splendid simple routine, the “pixmen”, inspired by modern pixel art.

Arnaud, who was responsible for the opening ceremony of the 1998 World Cup in France, used the movements of 600 volunteers, who were carrying multi-coloured cubes above their heads, to create extraordinary, gigantic pictures depicting various images of co-hosts Switzerland and Austria.

The capacity crowd of 40,000 included Swiss President Pascal Cuchepin, His Austrian counterpart Heinz Fischer, Prince Albert of Monaco, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso as well as football supremos Michel Platini (UEFA) and Joseph Blatter (FIFA).

The crowd saw traditional musicians such as alphorn players, yodellers and percussionists start the ceremony.

Volunteers then moved to create an image of Lake Constance that connects the host countries, as well as a mountain scene.

Other images depicted during the ceremony included dairy cows and fresh grass to portray summer in the two countries and skiers to depict an alpine winter.

Arnaud then merged modernity with tradition when figures of waltzing couples performed to 21st century music.

Just under 1,000 performers from 13 countries, aged 14 to 70, participated in the ceremony, which was followed immediately by the Group A game between Switzerland and the Czech Republic.

The 16-team tournament in culminates with the June 29 final in Vienna.

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