Qatar 2022 opening ceremony: World Cup mascots, BTS’ Jung Kook, Morgan Freeman and fireworks headline big show

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The 2022 FIFA World Cup is officially underway with 32 teams chasing one trophy in Qatar. Before Ecuador defeated tournament hosts Qatar 2-0 in the opener, actor Morgan Freeman and Korean pop star Jung Kook of BTS headlined the opening ceremony, which also featured a trip down memory lane with vintage mascots and World Cup anthems.

It was a unique event, as typically these types of ceremonies are only done for the Olympics. The ceremony was part of the reason why just a few months ahead of the competition, World Cup organizers agreed to move the event up a day. There were 60,000 people in attendance at Al Bayt Stadium — which was one of the stadiums built specifically for the World Cup.

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Morgan Freeman and Ghanim Al Muftah 
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Freeman kicked off the 30-minute show with a speech alongside Qatari YouTuber Ghanim Al Muftah — who was born without the lower half of his body. 

“What unites us here is so much greater than what divides us. How can we make it last longer?” Freeman said.

Jung Kook of BTS performs
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There were hundreds of performers at the opening ceremony, including drummers, dancers, singers, even camels. But the main event was Jung Kook’s performance of “Dreamers” with Qatari singer Fahad Al-Kubaisi. The song, which was officially released on Sunday, is about passion and believing.

The five-time Grammy award nominated artist was, as expected, a huge hit. A fan at the opening game cheered for Jungkook more than for the action on the pitch, and even brought a flag to celebrate the K-pop star. Calvin Harris and Diplo are also expected to make an appearance during the FIFA fan festivals throughout the tournament. 

The vintage mascots and songs
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Another much talked about character is La’eeb, the official mascot of the Qatar 2022 World Cup — which was unveiled April 1 during the group stage draw. 

“La’eeb comes from the metaverse of mascots, a parallel universe that cannot be described in words and everyone can imagine it as they wish. La’eeb encourages everyone to believe in themselves,” FIFA said when the mascot was first introduced to the world.

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That was not the only mascot who was shown. Qatar made sure the ceremony was unique, but the host gave credit to previous World Cups by showing old mascots and even doing a remix of the previous World Cup anthems. And yes, that included the forever iconic “Waka Waka” song by Shakira that represented the 2010 South Africa World Cup.

The fireworks
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Qatar’s fireworks, lights and drones have made quite a splash with fans visiting the country. They were impressive in both the fan event and the opening ceremony.

This was Qatar’s first World Cup, and although the host team lost the opener, they certainly put on a unique celebration. That was the lone game for the opening day, but Monday will see three matches, including the United States taking on Wales at 2 p.m. ET. For a full schedule of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, click here.

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