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British princess laments Olympic opening shows

By AP - Feb 05,2014 - Last updated at Feb 05,2014

SOCHI, Russia — Although Queen Elizabeth II was a surprise star of the London Olympics opening ceremony, her daughter said such shows have become excessive.

Princess Anne lamented to her fellow International Olympic Committee (IOC) members Wednesday that athletes have become an “add on” to a bigger celebration.

“I am old enough that I remember when the opening ceremony was only with the athletes,” said the British princess, who competed in equestrian at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. “To me, the balance has gone too far the other way.”

The 80-minute London show created by film director Danny Boyle was hugely popular in Britain. It included a rare and unexpected acting role by Queen Elizabeth II alongside James Bond actor Daniel Craig.

Their filmed scene concluded with a parachute jump from a helicopter by stuntmen dressed as the pair, who landed in the Olympic Stadium.

Princess Anne said opening ceremonies were important to remind that athletes “are committing themselves to the Olympic ideal”.

Her comments came during wide-ranging debates among 100-plus IOC members about future organisation and running of the Olympics.

“I think you can inform the royal family there will be no more parachuting,” IOC President Thomas Bach quipped in response to the princess.

A previous speaker, Alex Gilady of Israel, said changing the procedure of the opening ceremony would be “a strong step in the wrong direction.”

“The opening ceremony is for the world to be introduced to the athletes,” Gilady said.

Another British IOC member, elected by athletes, said the opening ceremony was a “wonderful show”, though many did not experience it fully while waiting to begin their parade into the main arena.

“I think it is something athletes should have a chance to see properly,” said Adam Pengilly, a former skeleton racer who competed at the past two Winter Games.

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