Healthy Olympics intro

The opening ceremony for the 2012 London Olympics aired Friday night.

One 11-minute segment of the ceremony has sparked quite a bit of discussion in the days that followed.

That segment, according to the ceremony’s media guide, honored “two of Britain’s greatest achievements: it’s amazing body of children’s literature and its National Health Service.”

That’s right. The opening ceremony honored the country’s universal health care program.

According to the ceremony’s media guide, the NHS is the institution which “more than any other unites our nation. It was founded just after World War II on Aneurin Bevan’s famous principle, ‘No society can legitimately call itself civilized if a sick person is denied medical aid because of lack of means.”

The cast of the segment consisted of more than 1,200 volunteers recruited from a range of hospitals from all over the country, including the beloved Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, according to the media guide.

Ceremony director Danny Boyle said the event didn’t have an agenda but rather represented the values of Britons.

“One of the reasons we put the NHS in the show is that everyone is aware of how important the NHS is to everybody in this country,” he said at a press conference.

But not everyone was buying his explanation.

An Examiner story, “Olympic National health nod misunderstood by chauvinist Americans,” took a look at headlines and tweets that emerged after the ceremony.

The Digital Journal had a story, “NHS in Olympics ceremony angers UK conservatives, vexes US media,” on the ceremony opinions on both sides of the pond.

And Rush Limbaugh, conservative U.S. radio shock jock, called the ceremony “more socialist” than the Beijing ceremony four years ago. He also said he’s convinced the ceremony was done on behalf of President Obama.

One positive aspect from the NHS segment (I think we’d all agree), is the 300 beds used for the piece are being donated to hospitals in Tunisia.

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