The claim: 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony foretold COVID-19 pandemic
Images from the 2012 London Olympics Games are making the rounds online as social media users claim they show prior knowledge of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pictures show scenes from the opening ceremony, featuring children in hospital beds, nurses, men in white clothing and a giant figure dressed in black.
"Predictive programming," reads the caption of a Dec. 5 Facebook post. The post was shared along with four images.
One of the photos is a meme-like image that reads, "Remember the London Olympics 2012 opening ceremony, with the giant death figure holding a needle, the dancing nurses and all of the children in hospital beds? It's starting to make a lot more sense now. They have had this planned for a long time."
Said one commenter: "Yep, and we thought it was just weird entertainment at that time."
But the "death figure" is just Lord Voldemort, a villain from J.K. Rowling’s "Harry Potter" series. The costumes and figures in the ceremony honored Britain’s health care and literature. There was no relationship to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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USA TODAY reached out to several users who shared the claim for comment.
Ceremony didn’t predict COVID-19 pandemic
"Isles of Wonder," the four-hour-long opening ceremony directed by Danny Boyle, was a tribute to Britain's National Health Service and its children’s literature, according to the Olympics website. The Lord Voldemort character was one of several villains that made an appearance, including Captain Hook and Cruella De Vil.
The Facebook post claiming a pandemic connection included a photo from Getty Images, which identified the figure as Lord Voldemort in the caption.
Social media users alleged the figure was holding a syringe in its hand, but the figure is holding a wand – as many characters do in the world of Harry Potter.The wand in the online posts resembles Lord Voldemort's wand.
"A huge puppet character from the Harry Potter saga is pictured during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium," reads the caption of the July 27 photo.
The Olympics website described the scene as children in hospital beds being overrun by literary villains. Then a group of "flying nannies," which represented Mary Poppins, came in to make "the nightmarish characters" disappear.
USA TODAY reached out to Boyle for further comment.
Fact check: 1963 movie did not predict the 'Omicron Variant'
The ceremony also included Queen Elizabeth II "parachuting" from a helicopter into the stadium with fictional secret agent James Bond and comedy character Mr. Bean performing with the London Symphony Orchestra.
Our rating: False
Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony foretold the COVID-19 pandemic. The costumes and figures in the ceremony honored Britain’s National Health Service and British children’s literature. There was no relationship to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our fact-check sources:
The Harry Potter Lexicon, accessed Dec. 7, Lord Voldemort
Reuters, July 28, 2012, Are we same species? World agog at British Games opener
Olympics on YouTube, July 27, 2012, The Complete London 2012 Opening Ceremony | London 2012 Olympic Games
Olympics website, Aug. 13, 2012, London 2012 Opening and Closing Ceremony
Getty Images, July 27, 2012, Giants puppets depicting villains
Reuters Photo, July 27, 2012
Wizarding World Harry Potter, accessed Dec. 7, Lord Voldemort's Wand
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: 2012 London Olympics show Lord Voldemort, not death figure