London 2012 Olympics: Britain ready for ‘greatest show on earth’
DAVID Cameron pledged Britain was ready to welcome the “greatest show on earth” as the final preparations were completed for the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in London tonight.
• Prime Minister says Britain is ready to host Olympics
• Bell-ringing event marks official start of event
• Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony at Olympic Stadium in London tonight
“It’s very exciting, I think there is a huge sense of excitement and anticipation because Britain is ready to welcome the greatest show on earth,” David Cameron said.
“It’s going to be an incredible few weeks for our country.”
Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) added: “London is ready.”
US First Lady Michelle Obama, who is leading the US presidential delegation which includes a ringside seat at tonight’s ceremony, was also in east London to give her own personal good luck message to Team USA.
Mrs Obama urged America’s athletes to “have fun, breathe a bit, but also win”, as she met them at their training base.
The big stage rehearsals for tonight’s ceremony are now complete and more than 10,000 athletes from 204 nations are preparing to compete for a coveted Olympic title.
Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle, the mastermind behind the opening ceremony, believes the curtain-raiser at the Olympic Stadium is fitting both for London and everyone who will compete at the Games.
Special effects, big names and bags of enthusiasm will be used to help celebrate the best of British in Stratford, east London.
Millions more globally are expected to tune in on television but many competitors will be missing from the long and late-starting athletes’ parade.
Competition clashes or just preferring to rest instead as part of vital preparations mean that British swimmers, athletes, track cyclists and rowers will skip the ceremony. Team GB has previously estimated about half of the 541-strong team will not attend, meaning major stars such as Jessica Ennis, Victoria Pendleton and Mo Farah may not parade at the climax of the big budget extravaganza.
What’s known about the ceremony so far:
• Dancing nurses, the biggest ringing bell in Europe inscribed with lines from Shakespeare, and children will be key features of the ceremony.
• There are 15,000 square metres of staging - equivalent to 12 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
• A flying system that can lift 25 tonnes - the same as five elephants - is used.
• There will be 12,956 props, which is more than 100 times more than used in a West End musical.
• The event boasts a million-watt PA system using more than 500 speakers and 50 tonnes of associated sound gear - double the amount of speakers found on the main stage at Glastonbury.
• The identity of the person who lights the flame will remain secret up until the final moment, but some of Britain’s greatest Olympians will take part in the closing stages of the ceremony. These will include five-time Olympic rowing champion Sir Steve Redgrave and double Olympic decathlon gold medallist Daley Thompson, but neither are expected to light the cauldron.
• At least one bookmaker stopped taking bets on Sir Roger Bannister, the first man to break the four-minute mile, but it may be that the honour is shared between a legendary sporting figure and someone else who is symbolic of London’s ambition to inspire an international generation of youth.
• Follow the opening ceremony live on scotsman.com from 8pm
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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